Saudi Arabia are one hell of a rich nation. Despite only being the 18th richest country in the world by GDP, the ruling family in Saudi are one of the richest in the world with an estimated net worth of $1.4 trillion. The family are investing, via Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) into, not just football, but sport all over the world!
It’s clear – money talks. If you have the money, you can be huge in sport. But what does Saudi Arabia’s recent investment into sport, in particular football, mean fo rt he future of the game?
Is Ronaldo’s statement that the “saudi league can be the 5th top in the world” actually a near possibility?
Let’s take a look at what’s going on…
We have just seen Reuben Neves being signed in his pre-peak for £47m, Chelsea outcasts like, Mendy, Koulibaily and Aubemyang, even Ziyech on their way there with many more bids for other European stars are set to take place – it’s left a lot of discussion and talking points and a lot to unpack.
Has Reuben Neves set a dangerous precedent by accepting this move, telling young footballers that it’s normal to give up your dreams during your prime in favor of an absurd amount of money to play in a retirement league?
The Saudi PIF now owns majority stakes in each of these Saudi clubs and has also invested in Chelsea’s majority owner Clearlake Capital. Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly visited Saudi Arabia this month and now Chelsea are selling unwanted, high-earning players to these teams…
are saudi protecting their investment in Chelsea by helping to bail them out of FFP issues.
5% of clearlake (at most) and clearlake own 60% of chelsea
What have Saudi Arabia been doing then?
They have been investing, a lot of money into sport for a long time
It’s not a new thing. Back in the mid-90s, the Saudi’s set up the King Fahd Cup – a tournament that went on to become the FIFA Confederations cup
In 2008, a state owned Saudi telecom company signed a long term partnership with Manchester United. There were reports in 2019 that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman actually wanted to buy Manchester United. More reports emerged last year after the Glazers announced their intentions to sell.
Key figures in Saudi Arabia have also bought Spanish side, Almeria as well as being a multi-owner of Sheffield United.
But it’s the more recent activity that shows that Saudi Arabia’s involvement in football is being turned up a notch.
They have hosted the Italian Super Cup since 2018 and the Spanish Super Cup since 2019. They obviously bought Newcastle in 2021
But the most recent and interesting investment for the PIC is their investment in THEIR OWN football league.
The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo to Al Nassr in the winter was monumental with the GOAT earning a supposed £160 million per year
Messi was close this week to also joining the league but the signing of Karim Benzema by Al Ittihad for a supposed £200m per year, the current balon dor holder, was just as monumental.
These signings are turning eyes to the Saudi Pro League.
But why are the Saudi’s so desperate splash so much cash into football?
There are plenty of reasons as to why but the main two are political:
To paint as good a picture of Saudi Arabia as possible
To help Saudi Arabia’s economy rely less on oil.
Aston Villa FC
Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester City FC
Manchester City FC
Manchester United FC
Tottenham Hotspur FC
West Ham United
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin…
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