Premier League clubs paid out £177million to injured players last season, an increase of 12% on last year, according to a report published on Monday.
Over 524 Premier League matches, specialist insurance broker and risk consultant JLT Specialty has calculated that there were 713 injuries sustained in total.
Despite having one of the lowest total number of injury counts (30) throughout the season, Manchester City incurred the highest cost £18.3million paying out over £0.5 million more to their injured players than any other club. In contrast, Bournemouth sustained 37 injuries, which cost the club £3.2 million. This meant that the average injury cost to Bournemouth was nearly £520,000 lower than Manchester City, who paid out £611,204 on average for each player injured.
One reason for the notable difference is that City players command higher salaries than most other clubs, which inflates the cost of injuries. This effect may have been exacerbated by some old-fashioned bad luck. The club saw a number of its biggest players injured at various stages of the season, including Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sané, Bacary Sagna, Gabriel Jesus – not to mention club captain Vincent Kompany, who missed 255 days.
Sunderland suffered an unusually high streak of injuries during the season, more so than any other club with 58 injuries. This, combined with the highest average number of players unavailable for a given match, arguably contributed to the Club’s poor season, which ultimately led to their relegation.
While several factors impact team performance, JLT’s report found a very strong correlation between final table position and number of unavailable players across the season. The average number of unavailable players each match day for the Premier League champions, Chelsea, was 1.66, whereas Sunderland was 7.37. Sunderland had at least three players unavailable for every match day of the season, with this number reaching more than 10 at times.
Contrary to expectation, JLT’s study found that younger players are the most prone to severe injuries. And not just this season. Analysis of all injuries since 2011 shows that it’s the under 21s and 21-25s who suffer the most severe injuries, with an average of 45 days and 43 days out per season respectively.
This is perhaps due to a combination of factors. Younger players tend to be less experienced, and often more fearless, so are liable to play more recklessly. What’s more, the youngest players are sometimes still physically developing as they begin competing at the highest level. This makes them more susceptible to injury under the intense physical demands of being a professional footballer.
In terms of the frequency of injuries, defenders picked up more injuries when compared to any other position; with a defender having a 6.3% chance of getting injured in a match, closely followed by forwards who stand a 5.6% chance.
Goalkeepers are suffering much more severe injuries. Their average injury lasts some 46 days, which is 10 days longer than other position. There are several possible reasons for this. Firstly, with an average age of 31, goalkeepers are older than their outfield counterparts. Age influences speed of recovery. Secondly, their position demands a high degree of collisions and explosive physical exertion such as challenging in the air for crosses and corners, resulting in falls from heights, dives to make saves, and throwing themselves at onrushing opponents.