Will artificial playing surfaces result in more sports injury claims?

Posted Sep 21, 2018.
Following a recent long term injury to a player in the Scottish Premier League suffered whilst playing on an artificial surface, will such injuries result in an increase in injury compensation claims?

Rangers FC winger Jamie Murphy suffered a suspected cruciate ligament injury during his team’s recent 3-1 win over Kilmarnock. The traditional grass pitch at Kilmarnock’ Rugby Park home ground was replaced by an artificial surface in 2014 and has attracted criticism from a number of visiting teams since then. Artificial pitches, often using the latest 3G or 4G technology, are increasingly popular choices for many football and rugby clubs as they require far less maintenance and can be used 7-days a week for a wide range of activities such as reserve and junior team games, ladies teams and training. 

Will injury claims succeed?

Legal experts on both sides of the border are now predicting a possible increase in compensation claims following injuries on such pitches, especially amongst professional players who could sue their clubs for making them play on non-grass surfaces. However, for a claim to have any chance of succeeding, it will need to be proven that injuries on artificial surfaces are more common that those suffered on grass surfaces. 

For a player to make a claim, they would have to show that their injury wouldn’t have happened on another pitch and that they could show how it wouldn’t have happened on another pitch. Although professional football players in particular are often very high earners, and taking into account that football as an activity will always involve inherent physical risks, ultimately players have the same legal protections available to them if their employer (that is, a football club) should they feel they’ve been placed in an unreasonable and dangerous position. 

Current law means that claims for such injuries must be made within 3 years, after which a claim will not be allowed. Therefore, whilst there are no studies currently available indicating an increased injury risk to players on artificial pitches, should such research supporting claims become available in future it may result in a raft of such cases. 

For more advice on injuries suffered whilst playing a sport, whether as a professional or an amateur, contact one of our experienced and approachable team today for a no-obligation initial conversation.