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Old 17th December 2016, 22:44   #1
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,537
Default Dementia -the FA, PFA and Means Testing

Dementia – the FA, PFA, and Means Testing
Just recently, I wrote an article highlighting the tragedy of dementia in football and how little help families with loved ones who are suffering from the disease receive from the relevant football bodies, and their former clubs. Dementia is a very emotive subject as far as the FA and PFA are concerned, so emotive in fact, that they do not like discussing it. As my previous article highlighted, despite promises made to families of former players suffering from the disease, and of the promise of continued research into the problem, it seems that little or nothing has been done nor achieved.
There are many, many old football players who have suffered from, or are still suffering from this disease. Many of them today are in that acute Seventh Stage – the final one. For the caring families around them it is more than a struggle to cope and provide the 24-hour care system that these poor fellows need. The NHS system does its best to accommodate them, but its resources are extremely stretched and at times can only be limited at best, and so for the families it is a huge drain on their lives and resources, emotionally, physically, and most of all, financially. In the end, family members themselves often, become sick through the daily stress which eventually turns into depression. It is a circle in life that just keeps turning and turning for them.
England’s World Cup winning team of 1966 seem to have been really hit hard by dementia, with Ray Wilson, Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, and Martin Peters suffering from it, and I have heard, but not had it confirmed, that Roger Hunt has also started showing signs of dementia. Almost 50% of that team. That team won that coveted trophy just over 50 years ago, and most players had retired from the game by 1980, some 36 years since. There were no real fortunes to be earned back in their day when compared to their mega-rich counterparts of today’s game. But they were the people who, through their Union, helped pave the way for the abolition of the maximum wage, and for the freedom of contract. Without them today’s stars would not be earning the rich dividends that they do.
It seems very strange to me, that in the last few days, an FA official has contacted some of the members of that illustrious team, and their families, to let them know that the FA, in conjunction with the PFA, are establishing a trust fund that is deigned to help the 1966 World Cup team. It also looks like the PFA will administer this fund and any award will be at their discretion. So, the question I ask is, why now? Why was this not done 20, or even 30 years ago, and why was a similar fund not set up for players outside the international arena who had paid their dues all through their careers at whatever professional level they reached? If they had done, it’s a fair bet that I would not be sat here writing this article now. Records show that both the FA and PFA have made many promises where the subject of dementia and research into it, is concerned, but hardly any have been kept.
On the surface of it, this trust fund looks to be a good idea. However, it comes with the most appalling string attached to it. Every applicant who puts in a claim for benefit from this fund, must fill out a ‘Means Tested Application Form’ which will be submitted to the Board of Trustees who run the PFA’s Benevolent Fund. They will determine the validity of each individual case. Means Testing in my opinion is an abhorrent thing. For the uninitiated, means testing is a tool whereby these Trustees will determine how much income a person or family member is receiving in order to determine if there should be an award made from the fund - or not. The application form is filled with some very deep searching and personal questions, and these must be answered in full naming every single asset both materially, and financially, that the claimant has.
Over the years, a lot of old players have had to sell their medals, trophies etc just to ensure that their families have a future which will give them some kind of a standard of living. With the proceeds from these sales, some have actually set up trust funds for their children and grandchildren. It’s my guess that these proceeds would come under the scrutiny of the Board of Trustees responsible for the PFA Development Fund, and again, it is my guess that the claimant’s request for help would be turned down.
These families as I said in my original piece, are proud people who would never beg for help. The FA and PFA have not reached out to them to offer any kind of assistance in the past – so why, after all these years has their conscience suddenly been pricked? A little help is better than no help at all – but - in offering this help, these former players and their families are being asked to beg, and then to be Means Tested in the process. It is totally abhorrent, and the whole situation stinks.
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