We all know Arsenal’s injury record is traditionally not good. Long term patients in fairly recent times include Rosicky, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla and the king of the medical room, Abou Diaby. I don’t doubt that Abou Diaby is a lovely fellow and wanted nothing more than to have an injury-free career playing the sport he loves, but the fact is that while he was at Arsenal he spent nearly as much time on the treatment table as the wipe-clean vinyl covering.
“We should get him off the payroll,” said many fans for about six years.
“They don’t get full pay when they’ve been out injured for months anyway,” said others in response.
I’d often wondered. It seemed a fairly commonly held belief that pay was cut after some time injured. My twitter poll on the subject gathered these opinions:
So two thirds actually thought there was never a reduction in pay.
As it happens, Simon Barker of the PFA (and ex-Blackburn and QPR player) was a guest at an AST meeting a couple of years ago talking about the work the PFA do representing players, and this subject came up. And the answer is that all professional players in England are entitled to 18 months pay when out injured before there is a chance that it will be cut – which a massive 5 per cent of voters knew or guessed. After that clubs can theoretically cut pay by half until the player is available for selection again, but clearly if a player has been out 18 months there will be questions about whether he is likely to return at all and the club will be looking at that. If he’s back in training or on the brink of fitness then I think they’re most unlikely to try and impose a cut; if he’s still not walking then they’ll be thinking about cancelling the contract, claiming the insurance and sending the player into retirement. Obviously every case is individual with many factors involved, but actual pay cuts due to injury are pretty rare.
I should add that I was informed on twitter by @GregAFC that the minimum time a player must be paid for if he injures himself doing something non-football related is 12 months, in contrast to the 18 months for on-the-job injury. I don’t know for sure if that’s true but it sounds perfectly feasible and reasonable, and he did also know the 18 month rule.
The PFA is solely responsible for ensuring players in England are paid as long as this when injured. Other countries have different rules – for example only 6 weeks of full pay is guaranteed in the Bundesliga, while in Spain Eric Abidal claimed Barcelona didn’t pay him when he was ill with liver cancer. The longest Abidal was out for was a year, from March 2012 to March 2013, and he’d resumed training in December 2012.