SPFL to open floor on concussion subs; Celtic could be affected

By Euan Davidson

January 22, 2021

The SPFL are set to let clubs, including Celtic, vote on the introduction of concussion substitutions this season.

The Scottish leagues’ governing body has opened a dialogue with the 42 league clubs. Each will be given an opportunity to have their say on whether enforced concussion subs could be introduced at the earliest opportunity.

According to the Sun:

“The clubs have been given until February 1 to provide their views as to whether they would support concussion substitutes being trialled in SPFL League and Play-Off matches.

“Any rule change would require 75% in favour in each of the three voting categories (Premiership, Championship, and League 1 / League 2).”

For Celtic and SPFL clubs, concussion subs would be a blessing

It seems unlikely that clubs would vote en masse against these measures. Protection of players is of paramount importance. If there’s any chance of limiting damage to our sportspeople, then it’s hard to argue against it.

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Head injuries are an issue that has dominated discussion in Scotland. A number of ex-players have gone on to suffer from dementia later in life. That’s been blamed on knocks and headers from their playing days.

From a Celtic perspective, the devastating passing of Billy McNeill brought much attention to the issue. Cesar’s daughter spoke to the BBC last year, suggesting that a ban on headers should be extended.

SPFL chief Neil Doncaster said (Daily Record):

“Clearly this is a very important issue and one that Scottish football has led on.  We are keen to get input on it from our member clubs as soon as possible.

“The Scottish FA has already indicated its intention to introduce the concussion substitute trial in the Scottish Cup at the earliest possible opportunity and we will be liaising closely with them, and with Dr John MacLean, once our clubs have responded with their views.”

The Billy McNeill statue outside Celtic Park / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

SPFL plans an easy sell to all Scottish clubs

Celtic legend Chris Sutton has been leading the charge on concussion substitutions. Sutton’s father, a former footballer himself, passed away on Boxing Day of 2020 (Mirror).

Mike Sutton had struggled with dementia for 10 years, having had his own professional playing career in the 60s and 70s.

Sutton was incandescent during a recent Celtic match, against Lille. Bhoys right-back Jeremie Frimpong took a nasty head knock, yet the Dutchman was allowed to play on as normal.

Scottish Football authorities have already ruled out heading practice at youth level (SFA). With concussion substitutes the latest topic of discussion, it shows that the SFA and SPFL are leading the way in this regard.