Saudi sports ministry offers six pro clubs to domestic and foreign private investors

June 6 – Saudi Arabia has taken the next step in the privatisation of its Pro-League clubs with six clubs being made available to Saudi and foreign investors.

Al Okhdood, Al Orouba and Al Kholoud, will all play in the 18-team Pro League next season, while the Saudi sports ministry said that Al Zulfi, Al Nahda and Al Ansar were selected for the next round of privatisation based on their “operational readiness, financial health, administrative capabilities, and athletic facilities”. They would also step into the top tier.

Once these clubs are privatised, a further eight lower-division clubs will be made available to private investors as part of a plan to offer a total of 14 clubs to private investors.

In June 2023 Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) took control of Al Nassr, Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal, the 2021 Asian Champions League winner, as part of “a bold investment and privatisation project”.

At the same time the Al-Qadisiyah Club was to be transferred to Saudi Aramco, Diraiyah Club to the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, AlUla Club to the Royal Commission for AlUla, and the Suqoor Club to NEOM.

PIF said last June: “The transfer of the four clubs will unleash various commercial opportunities, including investment, partnership and sponsorships across numerous sports.”

The Saudis want the Pro-league to become a top-ten league worldwide by 2030 with a revenue increase from SR450 million ($120 million) to more than SR1.8 billion ($480 million) annually and raising its market value from SR3 billion ($800 million) to at least SR8 billion ($2,13 billion).

Certainly the aggressive acquisition of international players has raised the league’s profile as will the eventual award of the 2034 World Cup which is expected to be rubber-stamped later this year. Saudi Arabia are the only bidders left standing.

All the newly privatised teams will need to recruit, most likely from international markets, to be competitive.

The sports ministry said the privatisation offer has two tracks for investors, offering permits to companies and development organisations to invest in sports clubs in exchange for the transfer of ownership of the same; or alternatively the total privatisation of teams.

The ultimate aim of the Saudi Sports ministry to create a financially sustainable professional football eco-system that is not reliant on the date, to that it said it wants to  “create an environment that favours sports investments and improves the fan experience through infrastructure development.”

No value or investment figures have been given for acquisition of the clubs.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721223395labto1721223395ofdlr1721223395owedi1721223395sni@n1721223395osloh1721223395cin.l1721223395uap1721223395

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