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Same label—different product: time to review the hiring criteria for therapists in sport
  1. Graham Neil Smith
  1. The Society of Sports Therapists, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Graham Neil Smith, The Society of Sports Therapists, Glasgow G3 7NY, UK; g.smith{at}

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Before 1988, there were no specific rules in the UK as to who could be appointed as a ‘physiotherapist’ in sport, especially professional football. Seems very strange, I know!

However, in 1988, I was part of a group who recommended that therapists in professional football had to be chartered physiotherapists. A 'grandfather clause' was also included that those already working with teams could continue, as long as they had a minimum level of qualification at diploma level. This was intended as an interim qualification to be phased out as our recommendation took effect. This was accepted and, from 1991, all members of therapy teams within English professional football had formal, objectively assessed training. The ‘grandfather clause’ then provided an educational pathway for ‘unqualified’ practitioners already working in football, who had excellent practical skills, but needed to enhance their underpinning theoretical knowledge.

The recommendation was undoubtedly correct at that time because physiotherapists had the training, scope of practice and skills necessary to fulfil the role of a therapist working in professional football. Additionally, the physiotherapist’s role was multi-faceted (soft tissue therapist, …

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. Text within the article has been amended and the competing interests statement updated.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests Professor Graham N Smith is a co-founder of The Society of Sports Therapists and the current Chairman.

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