Qataris look to build club ownership portfolio with Santos talks


May 25 – Brazilian club Santos are in negotiation with Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) for a potential sale or stake in the club.

Brazil’s Globo reports that the Qataris have expressed interest in Pelé’s former club with talks already passed the initial stage. QSI has asked Santos president Andres Rueda for the club’s financial accounts.

Last month, the French daily L’Equipe reported that QSI was interested in acquiring other clubs around the world. In 2011, the Qataris bought Paris Saint-Germain where Brazil’s Neymar is among the marquee players. Neymar reportedly made the introductions between QSI and his former club, Santos.

Santos has been among a large number of major Brazilian clubs burdened by huge debts and in a perennial cycle of restructuring those debts.

Brazilian clubs are structured as non-profit entities, but a recent change in legislation – in a bid to professionalise operations and attract foreign investment – has paved the way for clubs to become limited companies. John Textor became the new Botafogo owner and 777 Partners invested in Vasco da Gama.

Those clubs became limited companies, but Santos, however, it is understood, has no interest in moving away from the non-profit model.

QSI’s goal would be to create a large multiple-club ownership group, the way City Football Group have done through their Abu Dhabi backers.

In October 2022, QSI acquired 30% of Sporting Braga, a first-division team in Portugal. In a note released shortly afterwards, the fund denied having any control over the club and claimed that it aims “only the sustained growth of the team, including the consolidation of its status as a candidate for all titles in Portuguese football and as a club in the Champions League”.

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