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Premier League Injury Reporting Sucks
Is it time for the League to step in and demand more transparency?
Reporting on injuries in the Premier League is the Wild West.
As far as I can tell there is no formalized requirements or regulations for what a team must report beyond a team sheet with the starting players and the bench 1 hour before the kickoff to a match.
How and what teams disclose carries greatly. I have noticed that at Arsenal there has been a massive change over the last few years with the information the club gives going from very detailed (look at this update from 2020, this was a regular feature at the time) to basically nothing.
In fact it looks like it has gone beyond giving nothing to attempting subterfuge and giving false information about the actual status of the injury situation at the club. This is a very believable report that matches with what we have seen with Bukayo Saka from Team News and Ticks on twitter:
Arsenal knew that Saka was going to be too hurt to play against Manchester City but still said the following about him in his press conference:
“He is in contention, we'll see how he progresses from here to Sunday,” the boss said. “Obviously he had to leave the pitch [against RC Lens], that's never good news, but let's see how he recovers.”
Bukayo will be hopeful that his run of appearing in a club-record 87 successive Premier League matches continues on the weekend, having scored in both of our last two home games against Manchester City.
He was named in the England squad for their upcoming games in the international break, and Mikel admits that he has provided Gareth Southgate with the latest updates as both bosses aim to utilise their player’s talents as much as possible, while ensuring he remains able to perform at his best.
“I have spoken to Gareth on several occasions but I have to do my job,” Mikel said. “I give him the news and the position that everybody is at, and then we have really good communication. He needs to make the best decision for the national team and organising them.”:
Even the most optimistic reading of this is that he was hoping for a 1% chance of recovery for him, going so far as to basically tell the same thing to England which caused them to include him in the team that was called up for the current round of matches.
It is obviously frustrating that information that the club doesn’t want out is getting out and that has caused the club to take pretty drastic measures but I think that goes to the question of SHOULD this even be something that we leave to teams to decide.
This information is something that opponents would like to know, but it is also something that fans care a lot about.
This is also a major factor in for betting, injury news can be a major factor in why lines move, and having inside information can give a person an edge. It feels weird but given that betting is a major part of the Premier League, the majority of teams have a betting partner on the front of their shirts (this will be changing in the future) and even teams without a shirt sponsor still have a betting company as a major sponsor (this is a few seasons old but I am sure it is still roughly the same).
With this, it feels like there should be more standardized information that is reported by the clubs. I think the NFL’s system is a better blueprint that could be followed. This is far from perfect with similar drawbacks but it does at least force more disclosure and has mechanisms for punishment if teams push too far beyond what is allowed.
The major things I would like to see adopted are the practice/training reports, with similar type information:
Did not participate
I would also be interested in bringing in the Out, Doubtful, or Questionable designations. These meanings of these are spelled out in the rules and I think they are probably more squishy than I would like but it would still be better than what we have now with most situations. Out means will not play, questionable is defined as "uncertain as to whether the player will play in the game" and doubtful is described as "unlikely the player will participate."
Arsenal probably could have pushed things to have Saka listed as questionable, with did not participate in training but that would have potentially raised some eyebrows given that he is also out for England now too.
Am I the only one who gets frustrated with this or is this not really that big of an issue?
*** UPDATE: 12:30pm PDT ***
People have pointed out that GDPR laws would make something like this very tough. I get that and I will readily admit I do not have nearly the expertise or understanding of the way that all works to propose something that would fit within that framework.
I still think that there is probably a way to tailor reporting that did not go against the rules, perhaps it is with less detail and it is participated or didn’t participate, maybe it’s naming a 22-man list 24 hours before the match that the 20-man team is chosen from. It does feel like something is possible and would need to be done.