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Emergency response facilities including primary and secondary prevention strategies across 79 professional football clubs in England
  1. Aneil Malhotra1,2,
  2. Harshil Dhutia1,
  3. Sabiha Gati1,
  4. Tee-Joo Yeo1,5,
  5. Gherardo Finnochiaro1,
  6. Tracey Keteepe-Arachi1,
  7. Thomas Richards1,
  8. Mike Walker1,
  9. Robin Birt1,
  10. David Stuckey1,
  11. Laurence Robinson1,
  12. Maite Tome1,
  13. Ian Beasley2,
  14. Michael Papadakis1,
  15. Sanjay Sharma1,2
  1. 1 Cardiology Clinical Academic Group, St George’s University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London, UK
  2. 2 The Football Association, St George’s Park, Burton-Upon-Trent, UK
  3. 5 Department of Cardiology, National University Heart Centre, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Professor Sanjay Sharma, St George’s University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK; sasharma{at}


Aim To assess the emergency response planning and prevention strategies for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) across a wide range of professional football clubs in England.

Methods A written survey was sent to all professional clubs in the English football league, namely the Premiership, Championship, League 1 and League 2. Outcomes included: (1) number of clubs performing cardiac screening and frequency of screening; (2) emergency planning and documentation; (3) automated external defibrillator (AED) training and availability; and (4) provision of emergency services at sporting venues.

Results 79 clubs (86%) responded to the survey. 100% clubs participated in cardiac screening. All clubs had AEDs available on match days and during training sessions. 100% Premiership clubs provided AED training to designated staff. In contrast, 30% of lower division clubs with AEDs available did not provide formal training. Most clubs (n=66; 83%) reported the existence of an emergency action plan for SCA but formal documentation was variable. All clubs in the Premiership and League 1 provided an ambulance equipped for medical emergencies on match days compared with 75% of clubs in the Championship and 66% in League 2.

Conclusions The majority of football clubs in England have satisfactory prevention strategies and emergency response planning in line with European recommendations. Additional improvements such as increasing awareness of European guidelines for emergency planning, AED training and mentorship with financial support to lower division clubs are necessary to further enhance cardiovascular safety of athletes and spectators and close the gap between the highest and lower divisions.

  • emergency response planning
  • automated external defibrillator
  • sudden cardiac death
  • medical action plan
  • safety in sport

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  • Contributors AM designed data collection tools, monitored data collection, cleaned and analysed the data, and drafted and revised the manuscript. HD, SG and GF designed data collection tools and drafted the manuscript. TJY, TR and LR monitored data collection and analysed the data. MW, RB and DS liaised with the healthcare professionals at the 92 clubs to facilitate data collection. IB supported the study with endorsement on behalf of the football association, liaised with the healthcare professionals at the clubs and revised the paper. MT revised the manuscript and MP initiated the project. SS monitored data collection for the whole study, analysed the data and drafted and revised the paper. SS is the guarantor.

  • Funding AM, HD and GF were funded by a research grant from the charitable organisation, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.