Chelsea hit hardest by Covid this season with £14m worth of wages paid to players unavailable due to coronavirus

COVID has cost Premier League clubs an EXTRA £90m this season alone in wasted wages.

Prem bosses calculated the first 18 months of the pandemic wiped £2bn off the top flight’s income.

Chelsea have been the worst hit by Covid cases to their playersCredit: Rex

This season, with the return of full houses, that revenue stream is back on tap, with the likes of Spurs and Manchester United bagging £5m-plus per home game.

But a study by international insurers Howden has found that the combination of Covid infection and injuries, frequently caused by players being over-used as a result, was £89.82m, the highest of Europe’s Big Five leagues.

And the intensity of the Prem took a higher physical toll as well, with a staggering 659 injured players in the first half of the campaign.

Chelsea have suffered more than anyone in the top flight, with 55 infected or injured players seeing £14.02m paid out to players who were unavailable to boss Thomas Tuchel.

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Manchester United, with 34 absences, paid out £11.67m, while Crystal Palace lost just £860,000 in wasted salaries.

Howden’s study found, unsurprisingly, that September took the heaviest toll, with 127 non-Covid absences costing Prem clubs £20.41m.

But the frenzied December schedule, which saw teams playing up to nine games, saw almost 200 injuries across the Prem, for a fraction lower cost in wages to injured players.

In total, top flight clubs reported 209 soft-tissue injuries in the opening five months of the campaign, adding up to £40.4m in money for unavailable players.

The study said: “December was the worst month for soft tissue injuries, which correlates with that month’s high Covid-19 count.

“One potential explanation for this is that absences and disruption place additional strain on healthy players, forcing them to play more frequently and for longer.

“An alternative is that players returning from Covid-19 weren’t at full match fitness before returning to competition. 

“Either way, with rescheduled matches filling all the breathing space in an already compressed second half of the EPL season, high rates of soft tissue injuries are likely to continue through the rest of the season.”

The numbers will add fuel to the demand from the Big Six for the Prem to follow the majority of European leagues and allow five substitutes from next season.

Football’s Law-making body Ifab will next week confirm the previously “temporary” Law change will be made permanent from June 1.

Elsewhere in Europe, Real Madrid’s injuries cost a remarkable £16.24m, ahead of PSG (£14.2m) and Chelsea.

Howden’s James Burrows said: “Injuries are part of football but there are a number of factors that influence how often they occur and how big a financial impact they have on clubs. 

“When a player misses matches his wages are still paid and so injuries – even before you begin to consider the cost of treatment – are a significant financial risk as well as a potentially negative influence on team performance.”

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