EPL 2023-24 Season Injury Review: Financial Impact

EPL injury review 2023-24 financial impact
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What is the financial impact of injuries on EPL clubs? Following publication of the EPL Injury Stats for 2023-34, injury analyst Ben Dinnery reviews the key findings.

Did EPL injuries increase in 2023-24?

Injuries are inevitable in professional sports, and the Premier League is no exception. In 2023-24, we saw incidence and injury burden rise to unprecedented levels, up by around 11% on the previous campaign.

Reasons for the spike are multifaceted, although the rigorous schedule and increasing physical demands
placed upon the players contribute massively to the growing numbers of players on the sidelines.

What are the financial implications of injuries?

The cost of player injuries extends far beyond medical bills and rehabilitation costs and time out can significantly impact club budgets going forward.

It will come as no great surprise to know that lower injury burden, lower injury incidence and higher match availability are strongly associated with performance, and an 11-year retrospective study by Martin Hägglund and Markus Waldén et al. (2013) on the Champions League concluded that injury prevention is the key to improving a team’s chances of success.

teams spent over a quarter of a billion pounds on salaries for sidelined players

With each place in the Premier League table said to be worth around £2.2m in Merit Payments alone, one additional win could have earned Wolverhampton Wanderers, in fourteenth, an extra £8.8m, having finished three points behind Crystal Palace.

Collectively, Premier League teams spent over a quarter of a billion pounds(£266,165,160) on salaries for sidelined players, highlighting the substantial economic burden injuries impose on clubs.

What was the costliest Premier League injury?

Among the numerous setbacks suffered by Premier League players in 2023-24, Kevin De Bruyne’s hamstring injury, sustained on the opening weekend at Turf Moor, proved to be the most financially significant.

Kevin De Bruyne’s hamstring injury cost Manchester City
£8m in wages

This one injury cost Manchester City a staggering £8,057,143 in wages alone during his time away from the pitch.

The Belgium international endured a heavily disrupted summer in 2023 due to injury, and his lack of readiness showcased the need to undertake a comprehensive program during the off-season and exemplified the high stakes involved in managing player fitness and health at the elite level.

How prevalent were hamstring injuries?

Hamstring injuries are particularly prevalent in football, accounting for a quarter of all time-loss injuries in the Premier League in the 2023-24 season, an increase of around 11% on the previous campaign.

Salaries for hamstrung players topped £83m

Salaries for hamstrung players topped £83m with the frequency of muscle strains on the rise and higher levels of burden as the average return-to-play timeframe rose by 18%, meaning those that have sustained a severe hamstring injury can expect to be missing for approximately six weeks.

What was the impact of ACL ruptures?

Ruptures to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) were a big talking point before a competitive ball was kicked in 2023-24. Aston Villa playmaker Emi Buendia suffered a training ground setback on the eve of the new campaign that resulted in surgery and a failure to play any part in his teams Champions League qualifying campaign.

This came less than a month after Chelsea defender Wesly Fofana had suffered a similar fate. His nightmare start to life at Stamford Bridge continues, with only 15 Premier League appearances since joining from Leicester City.

In 2023-2024, there were eleven ACL ruptures among Premier League players, necessitating surgical intervention, more than double that of 2022-23 in the PremierInjuries.com dataset.

The latest research presented at the Isokinetic Conference in Madrid (May 2024) suggests that intensity of the game is a major influencing factor, which is why we tend to see higher incidence during the first half of matches.

Whilst nowhere near as frequent as hamstring injuries, its impact can be felt as players tend to take between 280-290 days before returning to competitive play, while a return to performance, to pre-injury levels, can often extend beyond 12 months.

Which EPL team suffered the greatest injuries cost?

Regarding the financial strain of injuries, no team has felt it more in recent years than Manchester United.

Manchester United paid a remarkable £39,867,229 on wages for injured players

Once again they placed first in the table, having paid a remarkable £39,867,229 on wages for injured players, constituting roughly 19% of their annual salary budget.

Messrs (Harry) Maguire, (Lisandro) Martinez, (Mason) Mount and (Anthony) Martial accounted for more than two-fifths (43%) of the expenditure from only 38% of the Total Days Missed.

Cost of Time-loss Injuries (£)

Conclusion

The financial toll of injuries in the Premier League is profound, with clubs spending substantial sums on salaries for sidelined players.

However, no matter the technological advancements and understanding of load management, time-loss injuries will continue to rise without the appropriate protocols to adequately address fixture congestion.

And while those that bear the highest injury-related costs continue to invest in advanced medical, fitness, and recovery programs essential to safeguarding player health and well-being, addressing the root causes of these injuries is crucial in reducing the incidence and economic burden of player injury.

To gain a greater understanding of the causes of injury and risk factors involved, read our Guide to Sports Injuries.