By: 12 February 2019
World Cup injuries take their toll on Premier League clubs, finds JLT Specialty

Premier League football clubs have seen a 44% increase in injuries to players who competed in last summer’s World Cup in Russia, according to new research from insurance broker and risk consultant JLT Specialty.

Manchester City, who provided more players to World Cup squads than any club in the tournament’s history (16), were the worst affected, suffering 27 separate injuries to World Cup players, costing 617 combined days lost in training and matches.

Their title rivals Liverpool have suffered a comparatively low 12 injuries to World Cup players, with a total of 128 days out.

Both the frequency and severity of injuries for World Cup players has increased this season, with the number of injuries surging from 78 in 2017/18 to 112 in 2018/19 and the average number of days out per injury rising from 17 to 21 days for those who played in Russia. Injuries in August and December also increased significantly from the average between 2011 and 2018.

In its latest Premier League Injury Index, representing the 2018/19 season (up to 22 January), JLT Specialty calculated that the cost of injuries to Premier League clubs so far is more than £130 million, on track to beat last year’s season-end total of £213 million.

The total number of Premier League injuries has also increased from this point last season to 478, the highest of any season on record since the 2014/15 season.

The top six clubs have been especially hard hit, all leading the pack in terms of total number of injuries as well as Premier League points, and also shoulder the majority of the cost burden with almost £70 million spent on injured players between them, compared to £60.9 million for the other 14 teams.

With England stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli both out injured, Tottenham are one of the top six that have been badly affected by the World Cup, seeing a total of 931 days out for all players, the second highest behind West Ham (1,156 days).

Duncan Fraser, head of sport at JLT Specialty, commented: “Starting next season, the newly introduced winter break cannot come soon enough for Premier League clubs. The lack of a break this season, coupled with the exertions and fatigue of a draining World Cup, has combined to create the most injury-ravaged and costly Premier League season yet.”

“It is unsurprising the top six are feeling the pain the most, with the majority of World Cup players being sourced from clubs higher up the ranking table. The fact that this hasn’t led to any of the clubs dropping out of the key European tournaments is a testament to the strength and depth of modern elite squads”.

“Alongside changes in training methods and the adoption of new technology, clubs are increasingly looking at alternative insurance solutions to claim back some of an injured player’s salary or even loss of value in the event of an extended time on the sidelines.”