Injuries are unfortunately common in professional football. The impact of these injuries on a team’s performance and club finances are estimated in this article published in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine. These are important considerations as they will likely have a significant impact on a club’s desire to pursue injury prevention strategies and to invest in a robust medical structure.
The aim of this article was to quantify the burden of injury in one of the most popular football leagues around the world, the English Premier League (EPL). It evaluated injuries sustained over five successive seasons of the EPL (2012-2013 to 2016-2017) and compared this to each team’s predicted league position (determined by the rank of its estimated financial squad worth) and their team’s actual league position. The main findings were that for every 136 days lost to injury a team loses one league point, while for every 271 days lost to injury a team loses one league position. These injuries also led to a worse than expected league position at the end of the season. In addition to the impact on team performance, these injuries were also shown to have a significant financial impact. On average the financial deficit calculated for losing one place in the final EPL rankings was estimated at £6.9 million while the total cost of injury to EPL teams was £45 million per season.
It is known that validated injury prevention programmes are not always done at the elite level, however the results of this article show that it would be financially prudent to invest in these. Clubs are increasingly focused on providing injury prevention and rehabilitation programmes, and there is growing use of technology that monitors player performance and wellbeing. Strategies are needed to encourage coaches and players to implement injury prevention tools. Increasing the awareness about the direct performance and financial impact of injuries is likely to be one such strategy.
There are a number of clear limitations associated with the study. The most significant is that the methods used to quantify both time loss and financial costs were based on open source websites and are not likely to be entirely accurate.
Eliakim E, Morgulev E, Lidor R et al. Estimation of injury costs: financial damage of English Premier League teams’ underachievement due to injuries BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2020;6:e000675. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000675