Former footballers affected by dementia are to be given financial assistance by the sport's governing bodies in England in recognition of the now proven link.

The Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Football Association (FA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) are said to have provisionally agreed to an industry-wide fund to support players living with a range of neurodegenerative conditions.

Maheto Molango Chief Executive of the PFA said there was an "urgent" need to help former players.

A spokesman for the Scottish Football Association (SFA) said it was reviewing the information.

Earlier this year Scotland legend Denis Law revealed he had been diagnosed with mixed dementia and said he was certain his illness was caused by the sport.

READ MORE: Former rugby international Jason Roach to pursue legal action against sport's governing body 

The new fund has been welcomed by Professor Willie Stewart, the consultant neuropathologist who led the ground-breaking University of Glasgow study which found footballers are three,and-a-half times more at risk of brain diseases including dementia and have a five-fold risk of Alzheimer's.

The research prompted the SFA to ban children under 12 from heading footballs but experts believe this should go further.

New data from his research published this year found the risk was highest amongst defenders, who head footballs most frequently. 

Prof Stewart, said: "This is very welcome news for the former players and families affected by these issues. 

"Hopefully this landmark collaboration between the football leagues, the fA and PFA in England  will act as a stimulus for similar packages of support to be developed for former players in wider footballing nations, and wider sports".

HeraldScotland:

Efforts have been made by charities to support former players in Scotland. A new fund was launched by Glasgow-based group Battle Against Dementia honour of Billy McNeill, who died in 2019 aged 79 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

READ MORE: Scots facing 'postcode lottery' waits for dementia tests and support 

The PFA has been calling for players to be offered financial help for a number of years.

Speaking to the BBC, Maheta Molango said the support would be more about "bridging the gap" to help families rather than covering larger costs like home care.

He said work is now underway to try to identify the scale of the problem.

He said he had been "surprised" by the collaboration between football bodies, but attributed this to a "changing of the guard".

He said: "Internally the PFA will launch a very comprehensive data transformation project.

"In parallel, what we've suggested to the other stakeholders is to launch a specific data project, linked to identify the size of the problem, and I see no reason why this project cannot be launched within the next few weeks.

"At the same time, the PFA wants to be a serious, sophisticated institution, that does things based on science.

"Attaching a specific timeline is difficult for me at this stage.

"But when you see the way that some of those members just deteriorate, day after day because of this terrible disease, you cannot wait."

He added: "We're going to push for this to happen as soon as possible."

HeraldScotland:

At the end of last year the players' union set up a dementia taskforce to examine the issue of brain injury diseases in football, involving Dawn Astle, the daughter of Jeff Astle, and Rachel Walden, the daughter of Rod Taylor.

The PFA charity has been offering means-tested grants towards respite care, care in the home and home adaptations for families affected by dementia.

In a statement, the PFA said the full details of the fund would be revealed "once football families living with dementia have confirmed the proposal meets their needs".

Calls have been made for dementia to be recognised in football as an industrial injury.