More than 20 injured players in Scotland have had to pay for their own medical treatment in the past 18 months, says PFA Scotland.

Clubs are not obliged to take out insurance for players in the event of injury, unless it is career-ending.

As a result, they have discretion whether or not to cover the costs of players’ private medical care.

Players’ union chief executive Fraser Wishart said it is “clearly an issue that needs to be addressed”.

He told BBC Scotland: “We’ve had situations where players have been released when injured, where a club has refused to pay for an operation when a player’s got less than six months on his contract.

“Recently, a player’s mother had to take out a loan to pay for the operation so her son can continue to play because he was injured and out of contract at the time.”

‘We owe it to players to find solution’

The English FA introduced mandatory personal accident insurance for all 11-a-side teams in 2012.

But the cost of those insurance premiums is cited as an obstacle to comprehensive cover for players in Scotland, with one club chairman saying it is “too costly”.

Speaking to BBC Scotland, he added: “How many other industries pay for employees to have private medical treatment?

“Many clubs – without any contractual requirement – do provide assistance to players on an ad-hoc basis. But the responsibility for ensuring medical care is written into a player’s contract lies solely with the player.”

PFA Scotland “understands” that position, but is calling for greater transparency from clubs.

The union has held talks with the SPFL about potential solutions and says all parties “owe it to the players to find a solution”.

“Our position is fairly simple,” said Wishart. “When a player leaves a club, he should be in the same state of fitness as when he walked in the door.

“When you’re getting players having to pay for their own operations just so they can continue their careers, it’s grossly unfair. We should be looking after these players.”

‘Players are putting together a kitty for injuries’ – case study

Craig Barr, centre, scored in Dumbarton’s League Cup group stage contest with Kilmarnock this season

Dumbarton defender Craig Barr, 32, injured his anterior cruciate ligament when playing full-time for Queen of the South in 2009.

The club paid for his initial scans and operation but, when the injury returned, he says they refused to cover the costs.

“I was told it wouldn’t be getting paid for and I was to wait for the NHS,” Barr told BBC Scotland. “It wasn’t nice – feeling unwanted. I felt kicked to the kerb almost.”

Barr opted to pay for ACL reconstruction himself and estimates he spent almost £8,000. Then in his early 20s, he had to borrow money from his family to cover the costs.

He has since played for Livingston, Airdrieonians, Raith Rovers and now Dumbarton and says things have not improved.

“It’s worrying. We’re nine years down the line and it’s still going on,” he said. “It can retire them because they might not have the money lying around.

“People more recently have been putting together win bonuses or putting money aside in case one of their team-mates gets injured.

“They’re putting together a kitty, like for a night out, in case one of the boys gets injured.”

BBC Scotland has contacted Queen of the South for comment.

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