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This paper highlights several areas of concern about the appointment of doctors and physiotherapists to professional football clubs. As this research was part funded by the Professional Footballers Association, it seems that this body shares these concerns.
Professional football is a multimillion pound industry, with players often being transferred between clubs for many millions of pounds, and top players earning vast sums of money on a weekly basis. That the medical care of these players is often handed down between generations or through the “old boy” network is a matter of concern. Appointment of club doctors should be made on a competitive basis using the same strict guidelines that apply to doctors employed within the NHS and industry. A relevant postgraduate qualification should be an essential prerequisite.
It is a fallacy to believe that you have to have played the game to make a good football physiotherapist. Experience is vital in all areas of employment, but bad habits can easily become ingrained in an environment like soccer, where it is the “macho” thing to play through an injury.
Surely in an age when many top clubs are quoted on the Stock Exchange, it should not be long before the “money men” wake up to the fact that they may not be properly guarding their most valuable assets, the players.