There’s a fiscal element to successful sports science….
Investment in sports science has profound effects on the sporting and financial success of an organisation. In football, one of the early pioneers of sports science were Italian club, AC Milan.
Their revolutionary methods were guided by Jean-Pierre Meersseman, who analysed the playing squad and potential signings in ways never seen before. Alongside the traditional medical he assessed dental records, neurological reports, kinesiological reports and other metrics to run the rule over players. They tracked thousands of data points on players and could analyse even the most subtle changes in performance.
Training schedules, heart rate variability, sleep, nutrition and blood work were monitored. All fairly standard practice now, but at the time it was revolutionary.
But did it work?
In 2007 AC Milan won the European Cup, a competition worth up to £100 million to the winner. In doing so, their captain Paolo Maldini became the oldest captain  to ever lift the trophy, around a month shy of his 39th birthday. Of the 11 starting players that night, only 4 were under 30. Of the remaining 4, 3 were 28 and 29. The youngest player was Kaka, at 25. It was the oldest average aged team to win the tournament.
Since its inception in 2003, the Milan lab saw the team injury rates drop, days of missed practice sessions drop and player performances improve. They won 11 major titles and reached another 2 finals.
That’s not the only benefit to the approach.
Milan saved hundreds of millions of pounds in transfer fees by keeping their players fit and performing long after you’d expect them to retire. Of the squad that was in place in 2003 when the lab started, two players continued into their 40’s and seven played into their very late 30’s, extending their careers by at least 3 years.
They averaged less than €40 million in player purchases for the 5 years post 2003, down from €131 million in 2002. More trophies, significantly lower capital expenditure – it’s the perfect business plan. Estimates suggest the Milan lab could have been responsible for savings and profits totaling around €1 billion.