Birmingham & Black Country

FA apologises to West Brom player Jeff Astle's widow

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Media captionJeff Astle played for West Bromwich Albion between 1964 and 1974

The Football Association has apologised to the widow of a former England striker who died after suffering brain damage from heading heavy leather footballs.

Former West Bromwich Albion player Jeff Astle died, aged 59, in 2002.

The FA promised a 10-year study into the effects of heading footballs, but nothing has been published.

It apologised to Mr Astle's widow, Laraine, about its failure to keep her informed about its work.

'Swept under the carpet'

Mrs Astle, who lives near Swadlincote in Derbyshire, said: "We have had no closure because the FA won't accept what killed Jeff.

"One of my daughters said, 'do they just not think my dad's life was worth anything?'"

Mrs Astle said she wanted the FA to continue its study, which she believes would be "worthwhile".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeff Astle played for West Bromwich Albion from 1964-1974

When he died, her husband had "no recollection of playing football", Mrs Astle said.

She said the FA had made almost no contact with her since then, despite her attempts to get in touch with them.

"The way they have treated my Jeff's memory... they have quite simply swept it under the carpet," she said.

A coroner ruled Mr Astle suffered brain damage as a result of heading the balls, which became heavier when wet.

The BBC understands the FA did begin a joint project with the Professional Footballers' Association to understand the effects of heading a football, but the project was never concluded.

An FA spokesman said: "We deeply regret any upset caused to the Astle family due to our lack of contact during this period."

It said it would speak to the Astle family about its work as soon as possible.

Jeff Astle played for West Bromwich Albion from 1964-1974.

He scored 137 goals in 292 league appearances for the club and is recognised as one of its greatest players.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jeff Astle scored the winning goal in West Brom's 1-0 victory over Everton in the 1968 FA Cup final

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