Saudi Arabia’s PIF takes control of four clubs as it looks to accelerate Pro League growth

June 6 – In a landmark move accelerating the Arab Kingdom’s investment in the game, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will take control of Al Nassr – where Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo plays – Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal, the 2021 Asian Champions League winner.

Newcastle United owner PIF, a $600 billion fund chaired by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, will acquire 75% of the four clubs, with the remaining shares held by new non-profit foundations.

In a government statement, the new acquisition is part of “a bold investment and privatization project”. 

No value has been given for the investment or the amount that PIF will plough into the clubs and the league to drive them forward.

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

The drive to back the clubs, and hence the Saudi Pro League, with state funding, forms part of the government’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan that seeks to build new industries, create jobs and coincides with a push to bring more top players to the country.

In a statement, the Saudi Press Agency said that “the privatisation and ownership transfer of clubs aims to accelerate progress in a variety of sports across the kingdom further growing participation, providing cutting edge facilities, increasing competition and nurturing future champions.”

In 2021, a new sports law was implemented that allowed for the privatisation of clubs with external investment and protections, but with PIF entering the domestic playing field, it’s the Saudi state that is driving the game. 

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal also said that 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.

The Arab Kingdom…

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Author : Paul Nicholson

Publish date : 2023-06-06 13:18:16

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