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Saudi Football Clubs Set to Rein in Spending Ahead of Transfer Window

SportsSaudi Football Clubs Set to Rein in Spending Ahead of Transfer Window

Following promises to cut losses and create a more stable local transfer market, Saudi football clubs will not go on their summer spending satiate.

Carlo Nohra, the Chief Operating Officer of the Saudi Pro League, states that the state’s sovereign wealth fund gave Saudi clubs a three-year budget last summer and that there are currently no plans to enhance this allocation.

Nohra stated in an interview on the sidelines of the Bloomberg Power Players Jeddah, powered by Asharq, “The deals were not signed for just one season so it is imperative to the clubs to try to act, they will have to offload players to free up some budget to be able to buy new ones.”

FIFA reports that teams in the Kingdom invested $875.4 million in foreign players throughout the summer. With a tab of $1.98 billion, only English clubs spent more than they did during that time.

In search of lucrative contracts, Brazilian sensation Neymar, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, and former captain of Liverpool FC Jordan Henderson (who has since been traded to the Dutch team Ajax) all moved to Saudi Arabia. The acquisitions came after Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo’s game-changing entrance in the SPL towards the end of 2022. Foreign coaches such as Roberto Mancini and Steven Gerrard have found favour in Saudi Arabia.

According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia was able to obtain television arrangements for its games in over 130 areas at rates four times higher than those for the previous season because to the popularity of foreign stars around the world. Next season, Nohra stated, these contracts will stay the same.

But last summer, player sales brought in just $15.7 million in transfer earnings for the Saudi league.

The league continues to struggle to attract spectators to their stadiums even after adding scores of elite international players. Thus far in the 2023–24 season, the average attendance has dropped to 8,321, a decrease of around 10% from the previous season.

Nohra believes that a “major contributing factor” in the low attendance at the games is the stadium’s amenities.

“It is part of the transformation strategy to make the consumer experience better, but nothing will change overnight, especially with the kind of facilities we currently have,” he stated.

Saudi Arabia has been chosen to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027 and is currently constructing multiple new stadiums. As the nation prepares to host the 2034 World Cup, it must have at least 14 stadiums that can hold more than 40,000 spectators. Only two grounds now satisfy this requirement.

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