A survey in the Independent newspaper has revealed that most footballers believe that the profession is homophobic.

Peter Clayton, chief executive of the Middlesex FA and the only openly gay man on the FA council said: “the main difficulty at the moment is that players are assets, They have a market value, which clubs might feel could be affected.”

“This is my personal view,” he cautioned, “but there are clubs who think it’s in their interests to counsel players not to come out.”

The survey found out that 57% of footballers think that football is homophobic, and, with precisely zero gay players in statistically improbably field of 2,500 professionals, these results are clearly something to worry about.

The Independent claims that it is privately acknowledged within the FA that there are numerous gay footballers in England. “In some cases they have been advised (and assisted) by their clubs to find girlfriends to maintain an image,” the paper reports.

Mr Clayton, commented that his experience of homophobia during his footballing career had not been particularly bad: “I’ve personally never had any difficulties with prejudice, either at Stonewall, as a referee, as secretary or as an FA Council member, not to my face at least.”

He accepted that there was “potential for abuse, and crowd reaction”, which could put players off coming out.

“That’s water to be tested,” he said. “But the FA are supportive. The PFA are supportive. Times have moved on since Justin Fashanu came out.” Justin Fashanu, who came out in 1990 and committed suicide in 1998.