THE family of former Weymouth FC striker Jeff Astle have won a major victory in their fight for research into brain injuries in football.
They have got the backing of the English Football Association, whose chairman Greg Dyke said the FA will conduct the research.
Astle, who bagged 35 goals in 50 appearances for the Terras, died in 2002 aged 59 of degenerative brain disease which the coroner ruled was caused by repeatedly heading heavy leather footballs during his career as a professional footballer.
Since then, his family have campaigned for the FA to conduct research into the link between degenerative brain diseases and heading footballs. They criticised the FA in April after it cancelled a 10-year study without publishing any of the findings.
After the cancellation of the study, Astle’s wife Laraine and two daughters Dawn and Claire launched the ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign, encouraging fans of Astle’s former clubs to lobby the FA and their local MPs for a study.
Now the campaign has gained the support of FA chairman Greg Dyke, after a meeting with the family at Wembley on Sunday, before the Community Shield match and he vowed the FA will conduct the research.
He said: “It was a constructive meeting and I thank the Astle family for their efforts in bringing this to my attention.
“We will keep in touch with the family and have outlined our plans to look at what research is needed next.”
Dawn Astle, praised Mr Dyke following the meeting, and thanked Weymouth fans for their messages of support during the campaign.
She said: “He said to us that no-one has listened to us and admitted the FA hadn’t done enough in regards to the issue. It was good to hear because they will finally do the research.
“We have never asked for heading footballs to be banned. We just want the issue to be recognised.
“Without the support of the fans embracing the campaign, we wouldn’t have got this far.
“We have had a lot of messages from Weymouth fans, including Billie Kearns (son of former Weymouth striker Peter Kearns) and Greg Dyke said he saw the fans’ reactions to the campaign and knew they had to do something.”