Kinnear family among claimants in brain injury case

Joe Kinnear
Kinnear ended his managerial career at Newcastle United [Getty Images]

The family of the late Joe Kinnear and four Premier League-era players are among a number of claimants taking legal action against football’s governing bodies over brain injuries allegedly suffered during their careers.

Kinnear, the former Tottenham Hotspur defender and Wimbledon manager, was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and passed away in April at the age of 77.

The claimants - former players and their families - allege the defendants - IFAB, the Football Association, the English Football League, and the Football Association of Wales - were negligent in failing to take reasonable action to protect players from permanent injury caused by repetitive concussive and sub-concussive blows.

In March, the BBC revealed that lawyers of the claimants were arguing that minutes of a FA meeting in 1983 "indicate [it] was always fully aware of the dangers" of concussion in football.

The group allege that despite that, the FA "failed to take action to reduce the risk to players to the lowest reasonable level" as stated in 'particulars of claim' in the High Court action and seen by the BBC.

The claimants are said to have suffered "permanent long-term neurological injuries" as a result of negligence by the football authorities.

In a statement to the BBC at the time, the FA said it was "not able to comment on ongoing legal proceedings" but that "we continue to take a leading role in reviewing and improving the safety of our game".

More than 8,000 pages of medical records and pleadings have been submitted by the claimants before the case management hearing on Wednesday.

Solicitor Richard Boardman, who is representing the 35 former footballers in the litigation, said: "Today's hearing is the latest milestone in our campaign to seek justice for those who were not protected by the football governing bodies from sustaining brain damage.

"The sheer scale of the problem is illustrated by the fact that we have filed more than 8,000 pages of medical records and legal documents for the first 17 football claimants alone."

The players or their families initiated their legal claim in correspondence two years ago.

This includes the family of 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles, who died in 2020 and had prostate cancer and advanced dementia.

His brain was diagnosed as having chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a form of degenerative disease dementia that is believed to be caused by repeated blows.

A similar action was launched by former rugby league and former rugby union players in 2022.

Research in 2019 showed ex-footballers were three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.