Injury Time: Injuries cost Premier League clubs £177m during last season, up £20m on previous year

24 July 2017

  • Manchester City paid out on average £611,204 for each injury incurred – the highest in the Premier League
  • Sunderland sustained 58 injuries, with at least three players unavailable for every match day of the 2016/17 season
  • Younger players are the most injury prone with the under 21s and 21-25s suffering from the most severe injuries with 45 days and 43 days out respectively

JLT Specialty (JLT), the specialist insurance broker and risk consultant, has calculated that Premier League clubs paid out £177 million to injured players during the 2016/17 season, an increase of 12% on last year. With 20 Premier League clubs taking part in 524 official matches, JLT found that there were 713 injuries incurred in total over the course of the season.

Despite having one of the lowest total number of injury counts (30) throughout the season, Manchester City incurred the highest cost £18.3 million paying out over £0.5 million more to their injured players than any other club. In contrast, AFC 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 Agüero, 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.

Fig. 1. Injury cost by team*

Injury costs for Premier League clubs

The callowness of youth

Contrary to expectation, JLT’s study reveals 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 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 a dangerous position

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.

*All figures cited sourced from Sporting Intelligence (see methodology for further details)

Interestingly, 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.

Sidelined with back and knee injuries

The most severe injuries during the season were injuries to the knee and back. On average, each of these injuries left a player out of action for 70 and 44 days respectively. Not only were knee injuries the most severe, taking double the length of time the average hamstring injury took to recover, but they were also the costliest, equating to almost £50m over the season. The most common injury last season was the hamstring, accounting for 18% of the 713 injuries.

Injury costs for Premier League clubs

Duncan Fraser, Head of Sport, JLT Specialty, comments: “We seem to be seeing a case of injury-flation this year. Over the last six seasons there has been a steady increase in the cost of injuries as players become more and more expensive and the Premier League becomes more and more competitive. While the medical treatment of every twist, torn ligament, cartilage, and broken bone has advanced greatly, there is still no magic remedy to summon players back to match fitness within a week.

“Injuries don’t just make it harder to manage a team, there is also a direct cost associated with it, in the form of salaries paid to players who can’t take part in matches. As a result of this clubs are increasingly looking to insure their players with the use of a Wageroll Protection policy to avoid a scenario where teams have at time hundreds of thousands of pounds sat on the bench. That way, if a player gets injured for an extended period of time, they can claim a certain percentage of their salary back."

- ENDS –

For additional statistics and information, the full report is available on request.

METHODOLOGY:

JLT has been sourcing and classifying football injuries from public sources since 2011, capturing injuries which caused players to miss at least one official match. Our scope encompasses the 20 Premier League teams, including any official matches in any competition played by a Premier League team. Unless stated otherwise, all analysis present in this report will be for the 2016/17 season. Injury cost represents the fixed salary paid by the club to the injured player during his absence; we have partnered with Sporting Intelligence to estimate this cost for every injury. All salary and cost of injury data cited is provided by SportingIntelligence.com.

ENQUIRIES:

JLT

Corinne Gladstone

PR Manager, JLT Group
corinne_gladstone@jltgroup.com

Tel: +44 (0)20 7895 7705

Julia Cooke

Smithfield Consultants
jcooke@smithfieldgroup.com

Tel: +44 (0)20 3047 2529

Emily Cullen

Smithfield Consultants
ecullen@smithfieldgroup.com

Tel: +44 (0)20 3047 2530

NOTES TO EDITORS:

About Jardine Lloyd Thompson

Jardine Lloyd Thompson is one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services. JLT’s client proposition is built upon its deep specialist knowledge, client advocacy, tailored advice and service excellence.

JLT is quoted on the London Stock Exchange and owns offices in 41 countries with more than 10,600 employees. Supported by the JLT International Network, it offers risk management and employee benefit solutions in 135 countries.

For further information about JLT, please visit our website www.jlt.com.

About JLT Specialty

JLT Specialty Limited (JLT Specialty) is a specialist insurance broker and risk consultant, providing market leading industry knowledge and expertise in specialist fields to some of the world's largest companies.

JLT Specialty is part of the Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group of companies (JLT), one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services. JLT’s client proposition is built upon its deep specialist knowledge, client advocacy, tailored advice and service excellence.

JLT is quoted on the London Stock Exchange and owns offices in 39 territories with more than 10,000 employees. Supported by the JLT International Network, it offers risk management and employee benefit solutions in 135 countries.