MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The coronavirus lockdown is having an impact on the mental health of footballers in England, according to a study by their union.
Around 70% of Professional Footballers' Association members who responded to a survey over the last month said they were worried about their futures in the sport or their livelihood.
Clubs in League Two, the professional fourth tier, have backed plans to curtail the season and the third division might also be abandoned.
“Some of the players at the lower division clubs are on short-term contracts that are up and some of them are living from paycheck to paycheck,” Professional Footballers’ Association welfare director Michael Bennett told The Associated Press. “This is having an impact on them financially.”
The PFA heard from 262 members between mid-April and mid-May, 111 of whom are current players.
Some 72% of respondents — 188 out of 262 members — also said they were regularly aware of feelings of nervousness or anxiety during the pandemic which has seen all sport shut down in England. Players also said they have concerns about the ability of clubs to survive without fans being allowed into stadiums when football resumes.
“You have got clubs that are reliant on fans and income the fans bring in,” Bennett said. "My concern long term is going to be the impact it has six to nine to 12 months down the line because obviously money that would usually come in, it isn’t there.
“Obviously then you can’t afford to pay staff and pay players and it’s kind of a snowball impact among the players and the club.”
The Premier League is trying to resume the season next month, but some players are concerned about the health risks of even resuming training.
“Some players that may be questioning whether it is right to go back or not,” Bennett said. “Some of them have young families, some of them have got partners who are pregnant, some of them are looking after elderly family members. So they are concerned about what happened or what could happen if the virus is transmitted.”
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PFA mental health support for players https://www.thepfa.com/wellbeing