Copenhagen set to sell striker ahead of Celtic clash

Pieros Sotiriou is travelling to sign for Astana instead of facing the Scottish champions.

Cyprus striker Sotiriou is poised to leave Copenhagen. SNS
Cyprus striker Sotiriou is poised to leave Copenhagen.

Celtic have been handed a boost ahead of their Europa League tie with FC Copenhagen as the Danish side have agreed a deal to sell a key player.

Striker Pieros Sotiriou played every minute of the club’s group stage campaign, scoring three times, but Copenhagen have accepted an offer reported to be in the region of £4m and the player is travelling to Kazakhstan.

The Cyprus international would have been in the running to face Neil Lennon’s side at Telia Parken on Thursday evening but is now likely to have completed his move by then.

Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken is quoted by Ekstra Bladet as saying that the timing was far from perfect, though he expects injured players to return to the team on Thursday.

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“We got a good offer, he told the newspaper. “It is not a super offer, but I would refer to it as an acceptable offer. That’s why we sell him now.

“Of course it’s a pity that it happens before our matches against Celtic. But I am now convinced that we, with Dame N’Doye, Michael Santos and Mikkel Kaufmann, will probably be fine.”

Ineos to spend over £1bn at Grangemouth to slash emissions

Ineos says it wants to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

STV News
Grangemouth: Ineos to spend £1bn on slashing emissions.

Scotland’s largest climate polluter Ineos says it is spending more than £1bn in a bid to slash greenhouse emissions at its Grangemouth refinery.

The petrochemical multinational said its Grangemouth operation – which includes oil, chemical and power plants – currently emits around three million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Ineos said it wants all businesses at the Grangemouth site to make and use hydrogen along with using carbon capture mechanisms to store at least one million tonnes of CO2 by 2030.

It added its plans will “deliver a reduction in excess of 60% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 through a series of investments, partnerships, and innovative engineering”.

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Ineos says it wants to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

Net zero cabinet secretary Michael Matheson welcomed the “significant investment, which demonstrates Ineos’s support for Scotland’s journey to becoming a net-zero economy by 2045.

“This will not only drive forward innovation and diversification to tackle emissions at Grangemouth, but will also support the decarbonisation of other sectors, sites and regions across Scotland”, he added.

Andrew Gardner, chairman of Ineos Grangemouth, said: “Climate change is one of the most urgent environmental, economic and social issues of our time.

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“We’ve set an ambitious plan to achieve net zero by 2045 and today we are announcing the next stage of our road map which includes an investment in excess of £1bn.”

Five Ineos sites at Grangemouth poured around 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2019, making it the largest climate polluter in the country, according to figures from the Scottish Environment and Protection Agency (Sepa).

The power company SSE ranked as second-worst, with its gas power station at Peterhead emitting around 1.6 million tonnes that year.

Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of Sepa, said: “As Scotland’s environmental watchdog, Sepa has an active and ongoing programme of engagement with Ineos.

“We remain focused on both addressing environmental compliance and in supporting and welcoming transformational innovation and investment wherever it occurs to help Scotland to continue its journey towards net zero.”

Ineos added its plans will create low carbon, hydrogen infrastructure “critical to secure the future of large-scale manufacturing at Grangemouth.”

The refinery at Grangemouth has been operating since 1924 and was one of the first to transform crude oil in the UK. It currently produces a range of fuels including petrol, diesel, kerosene, LPG and jet fuel.

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The refinery itself is run by Petroineos, a joint venture between Ineos and PetroChina formed in 2011.

Ineos said since acquiring the Grangemouth site in 2005 it has reduced net CO2 by 37%.


President Biden ‘anxious’ to attend Glasgow climate summit in person

The US leader said he planned to ‘be there with bells on’.

Phil Noble via PA Wire
US President Joe Biden is ‘anxious’ to attend the Glasgow climate summit in person.

The US President said he is “anxious” to be in Glasgow in person to attend a major climate summit later this year.

UK ministers are keen for the COP26 international climate conference to involve face-to-face meetings and speeches after the event was delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In what will be a boost to organisers, Joe Biden has given his clearest indication yet that he plans to travel from the US to the summit in Scotland, which will run for two weeks from October 31 to November 12.

Speaking in the White House during a meeting on Tuesday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Biden said: “As we look ahead to the UK hosting COP26, which I’m really anxious to attend in Glasgow in November.

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“We’re going to be there with bells on, as they say.”

Johnson and COP26 president Alok Sharma are working to ensure that the talks in Glasgow result in an agreement to slow global warming.

They are pursuing a target of limiting any further temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius in a bid to prevent the worst affects of climate change being realised.

The summit will involve calls to accelerate the phasing out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

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Johnson has been pressing world leaders to pledge $100bn dollars annually to help support developing nations deal with the impact of climate change as part of Cop efforts – a request Mr Biden responded to by committing to try and double the US’s outlay to $11.4bn dollars per year, or £8.3bn.

Earlier this month, Sharma said he was confident COP26 would be able to go ahead as planned in Glasgow, despite rising Covid levels in Scotland.

He said that a range of safety measures were being put in place, including providing vaccines for accredited delegates who would otherwise be unable to access the jab in their own countries.

“I am confident that we are going to have a physical COP26. We are planning for that,” he told the BBC.

“What’s vitally important is that the people who are coming are safe but also the people of Glasgow are safe. I am confident that we will have a safe event.”


Renewable energy start-up hopes to power two million homes in five years

Renewco Power aims to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects.

Steve Parsons via PA Wire
Renewco says its founders between them have some 100 years of experience in renewables development and investments.

A new renewable power business hopes to provide enough clean energy for two million homes within five years.

Edinburgh-based firm Renewco Power aims to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects, focusing on the rollout of large-scale solar and wind farms across the UK and Europe.

It already has a gigawatt of early stage projects in the pipeline across the UK and Europe.

And the firm, which has received backing of £24m from energy giants SSE plc, hopes to expand that so it has the capacity to provide more than 4GW (gigawatts) within five years – the equivalent to powering approximately two million households.

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Renewco says its founders between them have some 100 years of experience in renewables development and investments.

Chief executive Gavin McCallum, who previously worked for BP Alternative Energy said: “There is a growing and urgent demand for utility-scale renewables projects across Europe, and we are excited about the potential we see for Renewco.

“Renewco has a unique blend of entrepreneurial talent with deep power sector and financial expertise which we will use to accelerate new developments across Europe. We will be growing our team over the coming months, adding further commercial expertise to accelerate the delivery of our strategy.”

Martin Pibworth, SSE Group energy and commercial director said the new company had a “first class management team”.

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SSE expects to “generate strong returns” on its investment, he added, saying: “We see this as a complementary investment to SSE’s own core renewables and distributed energy businesses and look forward to seeing Renewco deliver their ambitious plans.”


Drink-driver sentenced over death of two friends in crash

Logan Russell was 17 when his Vauxhall Corsa left the road and collided with a tree in Fife.

Police Scotland
Tragedy: Ethan King and Connor Aird died following the crash in 2018.

A drink-driver who caused the deaths of two teenage friends as he drove them home from a party has been ordered to be detained for 42 months.

Logan Russell was 17 when his Vauxhall Corsa left the road and collided with a tree in Fife.

Ethan King, 17, died at the scene. Connor Aird, also 17, died later in hospital. A third passenger, Daniel Stevens, suffered serious injuries and spent a week in hospital.

Russell, now 20, managed to get out of the vehicle and told witnesses who went to their aid: “Help my friends. Can you get them out the car? It’s all my fault.”

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On Tuesday, a judge told Russell that he should have known the risks of driving after consuming alcohol and with a limited amount of sleep.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby said that if he was going to drink, he should not have taken the car, and added: “What happened here should be a warning for others.

“The victims are not just those who have died, but those left to grieve.”

He told Russell, who was also banned from driving for four years, that if he had been a mature adult offender he would have jailed him for six to seven years for the offence.

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Russell, from Leslie in Fife, earlier admitted causing the deaths by careless driving while over the drink-drive limit.

He had previously faced a charge of causing the deaths by dangerous driving on the A915 Standing Stane Road at Windygates, Fife, on November 11, 2018.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that he had held a full driving licence for just 55 days when the fatal collision occurred after he lost control of the car.

‘Drinking alcohol’

Advocate depute Leanne McQuillan said that on the evening of November 10, 2018, into the early hours of the next day Russell and his passengers had attended a party at a girl’s home in Windygates.

The prosecutor said: “The accused was seen by various guests to be drinking alcohol throughout the course of the evening as were the other guests.”

She said about 8.15am the girl’s father got up and noticed four youths were still in the garden and went out and told them it was time to leave.

He was uncomfortable about them leaving in a car and went to speak to them. He thought the passengers seemed drunk, but Russell did not and he drove off.

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The collision happened about 20 minutes later as Russell headed in the direction of Kirkcaldy. Two motorists were driving behind Russell’s Corsa.

The advocate depute said: “The witnesses described the car drifting gradually to the right, crossing the centre line into the opposing carriageway.

“No one saw the brake lights illuminate. The vehicle then left the roadway, struck a wooden post and fence, entered a field and collided with a tree.”

Witnesses saw smoke and stopped, and the emergency services were alerted.

As they approached the vehicle they saw Russell walk around from the driver’s side as he made a plea to help his friends.

He told police he was the driver and gave a positive breath test. A blood sample was later analysed and found to contain 118 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit in Scotland is 50 milligrams of alcohol.

‘He will live with it for the rest of his life’

Mr King was found to have died after sustaining significant head trauma. Mr Aird died on November 16 as a result of chest and head injuries.

Mr Stevens suffered fractured bones but made a full recovery, although suffers occasional pain in a leg. The court heard he remembers nothing of the crash or the party. 

Defence solicitor advocate Iain Paterson, for Russell, said: “He made a clear error to drive that morning – a dreadful error of judgement – and he understands that.

“There was a lapse in concentration, as he accepts, which led to this tragic accident.

“He does accept absolutely that he is going to be sent into custody today and he hopes that brings some solace to the families because he is deeply remorseful about what has happened.

“He will live with it for the rest of his life.”


Strike action ballot for university staff over pensions and pay

Industrial action will be considered at 152 institutions across the UK.

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Union warned that universities could face action that will disrupt the end of term

University staff will be balloted on strike action before Christmas in a dispute over pensions, pay and working conditions.

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced it will open a ballot to members in October on whether or not to take industrial action this term.

The dispute comes after a joint negotiating committee backed pension proposals put forward by Universities UK (UUK) to deal with an estimated £15bn funding shortfall in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The union argues that changes to the USS will mean that a typical lecturer on a £42,000 a year salary will lose 35% of their guaranteed retirement benefits.

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UCU’s higher education committee has confirmed that strike ballots will open at 152 institutions across the UK on October 18.

Six institutions will be balloted on USS only, 83 are to be balloted over pay and working conditions, and another 63 institutions in the UK facing two ballots over both USS and pay and working conditions.

The union has warned that universities could face action that will disrupt the end of term and continue into the next term unless employers return to negotiations with better offers for both disputes.

The president of the National Union of Students (NUS) has offered her support for staff planning to take action, saying “students will hold employers responsible” if vice-chancellors do not come to “a negotiated settlement”.

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The ballot will close on November 4, unless employers resolve the dispute beforehand, and UCU will consider the results on November 8 with action expected to take place before the end of the year.

It comes after strike action was held at universities across the UK in February and March in 2020, as well as in November and December in 2019, amid ongoing rows over staff pay, conditions and pensions.

Members of the UCU also took part in an unprecedented wave of strikes at universities in the spring of 2018 amid a dispute over pension reforms.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “University staff propped up the entire sector during the pandemic, but they are now being thanked with huge cuts to their pensions, unbearably high workloads, and another below-inflation pay offer – all whilst universities continue to generate a handsome income from tuition fees.

“The truth is that very well paid university leadership, who manage institutions with bigger turnovers than top football clubs, are choosing to exploit the goodwill of staff, repeatedly refusing to address the rampant use of casualised contracts, unsafe workloads or the shocking gender and ethnicity pay gap in the sector.”

She added: “There is still time for university chiefs to resolve a situation which is entirely of their own making, but they must return to negotiations and make credible offers.”

NUS national president Larissa Kennedy added: “Staff working conditions are student learning conditions and we stand shoulder to shoulder with our educators in fighting for a more just education system.

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“We demand fully funded, accessible, lifelong education where our spaces of teaching and learning belong to the students, staff and communities they exist to serve.

“Until then, it is entirely in the gift of vice chancellors and employers to come to a negotiated settlement and address the fundamental issues repeatedly raised by staff.

“If they don’t, students will hold employers responsible.”

A UUK spokesman on behalf of USS employers said: “We are disappointed UCU is campaigning for industrial action over reforms to USS, as they have not proposed a viable solution of their own.

“The USS Trustees’ assessment of the scheme’s costs means reforms are needed; no change is not an option. The employers’ reform proposal will prevent harmful and unaffordable rises in contributions.

“UCU may not like the legal and regulatory constraints pensions operate under, but it is irresponsible to make students and staff suffer as a result.

“The reforms voted for by the Joint Negotiating Committee ensure good benefits can be provided for affordable contributions, but employers will still consider alternative solutions.”

He added: “Universities are regrettably well prepared to mitigate the impact of any industrial action on students’ learning, and minimise disruption for those staff choosing not to take part.”

Raj Jethwa, chief executive of Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), said: “It is very disappointing that UCU seeks to kick-start another campaign to encourage its members to cause disruption for students through potentially damaging industrial action.”

He added: “The final offer from employers was fair and meaningful in the context of the sector’s ongoing delicate financial situation.

“We very much hope the trade union members understand the considerable pressures which continue to face their HE institutions.”


Big event organisers not required to check vaccine status of everyone

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon provided an update on the Covid passport scheme at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group

Organisers of large events in Scotland will not be expected to check the vaccine certification of every single person in attendance.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the move following concerns raised by Scottish football bosses that it would not be possible to check the vaccine status of every supporter attending matches.

However, the First Minister insisted that those organising large events will still be expected to carry out a “reasonable” number of checks.

Sturgeon said that at venues such as nightclubs, and at “relatively small” events, it is expected that it will be possible to check the vaccine certifications for everyone who is in attendance.

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The SNP leader made the comments as she provided an update on the Scottish Government’s Covid passport scheme, which will come into effect from 5am on Friday, October 1 – with the NHS Covid Status App available for download from September 30.

Sturgeon explained that certification will be required for any venues that meet the set criteria.

It includes that the venue is open between midnight and 5am, serves alcohol after midnight, provides live or recorded music for dancing, and has a designation space which is in use where dancing is permitted.

“A pragmatic and sensible approach will be taken to each piece of guidance,” the First Minister told MSPs.

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“In legal terms, venues will be required to take ‘all reasonable measures’ to implement the scheme – in plain terms, that boils down to using common sense.

“So, for example, a venue that has a dancefloor operating after midnight – and meets the other criteria – will have to operate the certification scheme. 

“However, they won’t need to check people coming in for a pub lunch twelve hours earlier, that clearly wouldn’t be reasonable.

“But by the evening, it would be reasonable to check customers as they arrive. That’s what we mean by common sense.

“A pragmatic approach will be encouraged, so that businesses can make sensible judgements.”

Sturgeon said that the Scottish Government is working with businesses and environmental health officers to provide specific advice and guidance.

She told the Scottish Parliament: “At a venue such as a nightclub, or at a relatively small event, we expect that it will be possible to check vaccine certificates for everyone in attendance.

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“However at larger events, organisers will be expected to carry out a reasonable number of checks.

“We are currently working with businesses and environmental health officers to provide specific advice and guidance on the level of checks that should be considered both reasonable and effective to fulfil the important public health objective of certification.”

More on:

Prosecutors order watchdog to probe death of woman hit by police van

Margaret McCarron, 58, died after being struck by a police van in Motherwell.

Police Scotland
Named: Margaret McCarron was struck by a van.

Scotland’s prosecution service has instructed a police watchdog to investigate the death of a pedestrian who died after being hit by a marked police van.

Margaret McCarron, previously Boland, 58, from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, was struck on Merry Street in her home town on Sunday evening.

She was taken to University Hospital Wishaw following the incident at around 8.20pm, but pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Police Scotland said the marked Ford Transit van was on routine duties at the time and did not have either blue lights or sirens on.

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Neither of the officers in the van were injured.

Police Scotland said the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) has been instructed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to investigate the death.

The force had referred the incident to Pirc.

Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit is investigating the incident and appealing for witnesses.

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Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting incident 3309 of September 19.


Military personnel will deploy to support Scottish Ambulance Service

A request for military assistance was approved by the UK Government.

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The Ministry of Defence will provide 114 people to augment ambulance drivers.

Hundreds of military personnel will be deployed to support the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The UK Government approved the support through the Military Assistance to the Civil Authority (MACA) process.

It comes after a request from the Scotland Office, working with the Scottish Government, to tackle long response times, with the ambulance service under severe pressure due to the pandemic.

Last week at Holyrood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that consideration was being given to asking for targeted military assistance to help with “short-term pressure points”.

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It has now been confirmed that from Saturday, the Ministry of Defence will provide 114 people to augment ambulance drivers.

This will include drivers and support staff, who will provide resilience to the Scottish Ambulance Service by carrying out non-emergency driving work, with each being paired with a clinical professional.

A further 111 personnel will operate Mobile Testing Units, which the military previously supported in 2020.

They will be utilised to help identify infections and break chains of transmission, with their work beginning on Wednesday, September 29.

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Brigadier Ben Wrench, commander of Joint Military Command Scotland said: “The Armed Forces in Scotland continue to support the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic.

“We are working closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish Ambulance Service, following their requests for assistance with drivers and Mobile Testing Units.”

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace praised the lifesaving service being provided by members of the Armed forces.

“Our Armed Forces are once again stepping up, demonstrating their versatility as we support the Covid-19 response across the UK,” he said.

“We are proud to work alongside the dedicated men and women at the Scottish Ambulance Service as they continue to provide a lifesaving service to the people of Scotland.

“Our commitment to provide rapid support to communities and civil authorities is being delivered alongside the deployment of thousands of personnel on operations around the world.”

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said that the dedication and professionalism of those being deployed will be “invaluable”.

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“Our fantastic British Armed Forces have played a key role in the fight against Covid-19 across the UK and it is admirable to see them once supporting crucial public services in Scotland in times of need,” he said.

“The dedication and professionalism of the 225 personnel being deployed will be invaluable for the Scottish Ambulance Service and Covid Mobile Testing Units. 

“We are grateful for all their efforts to keep us safe. As we have continued to see throughout the pandemic, the strength of the union and support offered by the UK Government has never been more important.”

On Tuesday, the Scottish Government announced that an additional £20m of funding will be invested in the Scottish Ambulance Service to help improve response times.

Scottish health secretary had earlier indicated that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will be brought in to support the ambulance service.


Dementia in former footballers ‘undoubtedly an industrial injury’

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton is backing the campaign, and has urged the Scottish Government to show ‘leadership’ on the issue.

SNS via SNS Group
Denis Law: Diagnosed as suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Cases of dementia in former footballers should “undoubtedly, indisputably” be classed as an industrial injury, the Scottish Government has been told.

Labour MSP Michael Marra made the plea as he called on ministers to honour the footballing “heroes who suffer for having entertained us”.

Just a month after former Scotland and Manchester United player Denis Law revealed he has been diagnosed as suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, Holyrood debated the links between football and conditions such as these for the first time.

It comes as the Injury Time campaign is working to see dementia in former players recognised as an industrial injury.

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It also wants increased research into the issue, and for a working group to be set up to consider brain injury and dementia, including the impact of this on the grassroots game.

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton is backing the campaign, and has urged the Scottish Government to show “leadership” on the issue.

Meanwhile, when the Scottish Government takes responsibility for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits, Marra demanded that ministers must “classify dementia in former footballers an industrial injury”.

Speaking in Holyrood, he said: “This is not – we must be clear – a debate about concussion. The medical condition here comes from repeated brain trauma from the repeated heading of a football on the pitch and in training.

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“The striker Chris Sutton – who lost his beloved footballer father to dementia – estimates his own repetitive trauma amounting to 70,000 times heading the ball across his career.

“Chris has backed this campaign and is calling on Scotland to show leadership.”

Research has already shown that former footballers have higher dementia rates than the general population.

Researchers at Glasgow University assessed the medical records of almost 7,700 men who played professional football in Scotland between 1900 and 1976 – finding that they were approximately three-and-a-half times more likely to die from neurodegenerative disease than the general population.

The study, carried out for the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association in 2019, discovered that there was a five-fold increase in Alzheimer’s disease among the former players.

Marra highlighted the deaths from dementia of former Celtic captain Billy McNeill, and the former Dundee United player Frank Kopel – whose wife Amanda led a successful campaign to extend free personal care in the wake of his dementia diagnosis.

But the Labour MSP added that while some famous players had spoken publicly about their condition, many more were suffering.

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Marra said: “Many families of household names choose to preserve their privacy, to maintain their public dignity when dementia has stripped them of so much.

“And then there are those whose names would not command headlines but who played, entertained, loved the game and who now suffer.”

He added: “The research undertaken by Dr Willie Stewart of the University of Glasgow is clear – a professional goalkeeper has the same chance of developing dementia as any citizen, a striker is 3.5 times more likely to suffer and a defender five times more likely.”

Public health and sport minister Maree Todd said when the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit transfers to Scottish control, ministers would consider “how best to meet people’s needs”.

She described the issue of brain injuries among former sportsmen and women as being both “important” and “complicated”.

Todd said ministers were “committed to increasing our knowledge of the possible links between neuro degenerative disease, including dementia, and sports related injury”.

Calls for a working group to be set up will be responded to in “due course”, she added.

Todd continued: “Unfortunately the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is still currently delivered by the UK Government, and I understand that they do not currently consider dementia as an industrial injury.

“It will be delivered by the Scottish Government in the future. And when it is delivered by the Scottish Government, that will be after a full public consultation on how best to meet people’s needs.”


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