How injuries have affected the English Premier League

24 July 2017

We are pleased to publish our second Sports Injury Index. Each year, the index looks at how injuries have affected the 20 English Premier League football clubs over the course of the most recent season. It helps clubs to understand the financial impact of player injuries, and assess the extent of their injury risk exposure.

It seems the dust has barely settled on last season yet the next is almost here. Looking back, the 2016-17 Premier League season saw the end of the Leicester City fairy tale, and the re-emergence of Chelsea as the Premier League’s dominant force. 

Over 524 games in all competitions, the overall number of injuries suffered by Premier League players this season decreased slightly, after a dramatic spike in the number of injuries sustained in the previous term. 

Yet the league’s 20 teams paid out 12% more this season – some GBP20 million more – to players sitting on the sidelines due to injury. Wages paid to injured players totalled GBP177 million, compared to just over GBP157 million last season. 

How injuries have affected the English Premier League

Since we began collecting injury data in 2011, there has been a steady increase in the financial cost of injuries to Premier League clubs – a reflection of how players are becoming more and more expensive in today’s market. 

This year’s 12% hike in injury costs is down to the inflationary effect on players’ salaries of the new three year TV deals (domestic and foreign) that came into effect this season. They were almost GBP6 billion in 2013-16, but more than GBP8.5 billion for 2016-19. Wages were up by around 10% compared to last season.

How injuries have affected the English Premier League

But there’s a secondary factor at play: an increase in the severity of injuries has also pushed up the cost. The average lay-off lasted 35.22 days, compared to a shade under 30 days last season.

Younger talent, greater risks

June 2017 may come to be remembered for the emergence of a new generation of English footballing talent. England’s Under-20 internationals won the World Cup, and their under-21 counterparts reached the semi-finals of the European Championship (losing to Germany on penalties). 

But there may be risks ahead for these promising young players. Perhaps surprisingly, our data shows that younger footballers consistently have been more prone to severe injuries than their older peers. 

Clubs traditionally see the blooding in of young players as a risk for several reasons. If youngsters struggle to cope in the cut-and-thrust of the Premier League, games can be lost. Clubs may slide down the table, resulting in a loss of prize money. Additionally, there has long been a debate about whether the high proportion of foreign players in the Premier League is a bar to young English stars trying to break into the first team. Hopefully, the greater injury risk they seem to pose won’t prove to be another barrier to the young players who’ve brought us some long-awaited national success.

Our methodology

We have been sourcing, classifying and studying data on Premier League injuries since 2011. Using public sources, our analysis covers all official matches played by Premier League teams in all competitions. 

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. The cost data used in all the charts throughout this report was also provided by Sporting Intelligence. 

This analysis, along with our unique injury predictive model, enables us to advise clubs on their injury risk exposure, and recommend suitable cover.

Download JLT Sports Injury Index

For further information, please contact Duncan Fraser, Head of Sport, Media & Entertainment on +44 20 7528 4885 or email duncan_fraser@jltgroup.com