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Injuries cost Europe’s leading football clubs €472.6m with Covid-19 losses just short of €50m

There were 494 reported Covid-19 cases across Europe’s top five leagues last season, resulting in players missing 7,068 days at a cost of €48.2m, finds Howden’s European Football Injury Index. It also reveals that injuries were up 13.8%, with the English Premier League (EPL) worst hit both financially and in terms of sheer numbers.

The broker’s inaugural index shows that across the EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1, players missed an average 14.33 days each time they tested positive for Covid-19.

Serie A, Italy’s top division, suffered the highest number of cases at 171. Some 37% of its players tested positive during the 2020/2021 season, costing Serie A clubs €19.6m.

Next came Ligue 1 in France with 97 cases, La Liga in Spain with 83, the Bundesliga in Germany with 73 and then England’s EPL with 70.

The index also shows that injuries across Europe’s big five leagues were up 13.8% in the 2020/2021 season to 3,988, from 3,504 the season before.

Total injuries cost clubs in the top five leagues €472.6m, with the average cost of injuries per league €94.5m.

The EPL experienced the most injuries at 938 and the highest injury cost at €155.9m, followed by La Liga on €84.5m. It is worth noting that the EPL pays the highest wages overall, which clearly impacts overall costs.

There were 902 injuries in the Bundesliga, 781 in Serie A, 761 in La Liga and 606 in Ligue 1.

Injuries in the Premier League have risen dramatically during the Covid-19 era, from 495 in the 2018/2019 season to 938 in 2020/2021. That’s a rise of 89.5% over two years.

In comparison, Bundesliga injuries fell during the three seasons studied, from 1,173 in 2018/2019 to 781.

France’s Ligue 1 benefited from the fewest injuries, but recorded the highest injury severity rate in Europe. Players from Ligue 1 were out for an average 23.29 days per injury. In the EPL, players missed just 14.87 days on average.

The Bundesliga had the highest average number of players missing each matchday at 40.39. That figure was 34.78 in Serie A.

Paris Saint Germain (€34.2m), Real Madrid (€28m) and Liverpool (€17.9m) suffered the highest injury costs in Europe.

The index also shows that player position influenced injury type and frequency. Defenders suffered the highest number of injuries at 1,422, with midfielders recording the highest injury costs at €165.6m.

Players in the 26 to 30 age bracket recorded the most injuries at 1,551 and the highest injury costs, totalling €205.7m in salary.

Howden says that injuries peaked earlier during the 2020/2021 season, in October and November, rather than in December and January as in previous years. It said it is possible that this trend can be attributed to a short pre-season and late start to the 2020/2021 season, with the exception of Ligue 1.

James Burrows, divisional director, sport and entertainment at Howden, commented: “This report has quantified for the first time the significant monetary impact that Covid-19 has had on the major football clubs in Europe last season. The pandemic has not only contributed to a 14% rise in injuries across the five major European leagues, costing clubs a total of $473.6m, but it has resulted in injury numbers peaking earlier in the season.”

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