The Minister for Sport, Stuart Andrew MP, has joined forces with PFA CEO Maheta Molango to ensure football is doing all it can to prevent players being seriously injured in collisions with pitch perimeter fences and walls.
The PFA approached the Minister to ask for support in strengthening the guidance given to clubs around the safety of stadiums after Bath City’s Alex Fletcher sustained serious injuries in a collision with a pitch side concrete wall during a game in November 2022. Alex, who has worked with the PFA to highlight the issue, continues his recovery after undergoing emergency brain surgery in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
Now the Minister has written a joint letter with the PFA to leagues and The FA setting out expectations over the guidance which will be given to clubs to ensure stadium perimeters are safe for players.
PFA Director of External Affairs, Ben Wright, says that players’ union decided to take action after concerns that there is a “lack of clarity” over the regulations that are in place to ensure player safety.
“Although safety is ultimately the responsibility of the stadium owner, the PFA’s view is that the direction given to clubs in this area is not as strong as it could be.
“We’re pleased that the Minister wants to see the leagues and The FA take a bigger role in ensuring player safety. They are able to give guidance, share best practice and set an expectation that clubs will be proactive in their approach. As part of that, we want clubs to work with players to identify potential risk factors that those who aren’t on the pitch every week might not necessarily see.
The PFA hope that the Minister’s intervention will encourage clubs and leagues to look again to ensure that conditions are safe for players and where potential risks presented by concrete walls, unguarded metal fences and ‘drops’ between pitch level and stand level can be addressed..
“It’s the time of the year where clubs take the opportunity to do work on stadiums ahead of the new season, so it’s a good opportunity for them to think about this.
“Collectively, football should do everything it can to make sure incidents like Alex Fletcher’s don’t happen. This is a step in the right direction and we appreciate the Minister’s support.”
The PFA will now continue to work with Government to ensure that Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections, which cover stadium safety, are taking full account of player safety and potential risks around the pitch perimeter.a