The SNP's Ian Blackford will lead a parliamentary debate today calling for ex-footballers to be given financial support by law if they develop dementia. 

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP, who is a keen football fan, will call on the UK Government to support those suffering from football-related neurodegenerative diseases by classifying these as industrial injuries.

Campaigners say this will enable greater access to financial and professional support for players and their families. 

The move follows emerging research evidence which suggests a potential link between playing contact sports and the development of neurodegenerative diseases - such as dementia - later in life, with some research indicating that repetitive impacts resulting from “heading” the ball are to blame. 

According to a study by the University of Glasgow, professional footballers in the UK are three and a half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia than the general population. 

Celtic legend Billy McNeill is among the former players who developed dementia. 

Read more: Glasgow's Riverside Museum aquires family car for dementia project 

In his speech, the MP will state: “So many of those suffering, as well as their families, face challenging, distressing times - often without the support that would make a difference both professionally and financiall.

"As Parliamentarians it is up to all of us to demand that the UK Government and the devolved administrations use their powers to support those that need early intervention, appropriate care and support.” 

Speaking in advance of the debate, Mr Blackford said: “Studies have shown professional footballers in the UK are three and a half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia than the general population - an alarming statistic that highlights the urgency of addressing this issue and making sure that this condition is recognised as an industrial injury.” 

He added: “Generations of players have graced our pitches, showcasing their skills and passion.

"However, the physical nature of the game, especially in the past when head injuries were not adequately addressed, has left a legacy of suffering we must avoid for future generations.”