The Impact of Saudi Arabia’s Huge Spending on European Football Leagues: Opportunities or Threats?

2023-08-18 19:33:08

Saudi Arabia’s huge spending to include stars in European football leagues may be positive for these clubs, rather than being a threat to them.

And a report sees, in a wave of transfers of famous names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema and Riyad Mahrez, an opportunity for European clubs, more than a threat, as they generate large financial returns.

The Brazilian striker, Neymar da Silva, was the last famous soccer player to join Al Hilal club from Paris Saint-Germain, France, for more than $ 90 million.

The “Saudi gluttony”, as put it, could help European teams raise money and meet the Confederation’s Confederation’s strict financial fair play rules.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, has introduced new rules that limit clubs’ spending on wages, deals and agent fees to 70% of revenue.

This gives clubs a reason to sell expensive players, because nearly half of clubs in the English Premier League have already crossed that threshold in 2021/2022, according to Deloitte’s analysis.

And the Saudi sports journalist, Muhammad Al-Omari, sees the issue of Saudi Arabia attracting international football stars from more than one perspective.

In an interview with Al-Hurra TV, Al-Omari explained that there are several aspects, including economic and marketing, in addition to the sports side, related to the recruitment file, noting that the first goal of this endeavor is to “make the Saudi league among the five best leagues in the world.”

He added, “To achieve this, you have to attract the best players in the world,” before adding, “This endeavor is not new, as it was undertaken by the English Premier League as well as the Italian League.”

He pointed out that there are efforts in Saudi Arabia to send young players outside the Kingdom in order to refine their experiences and serve sports training in the country, and he said, “There is a deliberate plan that includes even talents and academies.”

And speaking of the reason behind accepting brilliant names to join Saudi clubs, is it because of money or is it an addition to the Saudi league? Al-Omari said, “The fact that money is one of the goals of the players is a foregone conclusion, whether they go to the Saudi, English, Italian, or any other league.”

He continued, “But there are many players looking for new sports projects, and the Saudi League is a new challenge,” highlighting the statements of a number of players who moved to the Saudi League and who said that they are in the process of searching for new challenges.

In the context of his speech, he revealed that there are ongoing negotiations to attract more players after the summer transfer period was extended until next month.

The Saudi League, Roshen, is the best transfer market in football, as its clubs this season, including Al-Nasr and Al-Ittihad, which are backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, have spent more than $650 million to bring in players such as Neymar and Ruben Neves, according to Transfermarkt.

The English Premier League accounted for more than a third of those gains.

The Saudi Premier League, which includes 18 clubs in total, ranked second this year in net spending on players globally behind the English Premier League, according to Deloitte’s sports business group, overtaking La Liga, which has held the lead for years.

The fact that Saudi Arabia has no such rules makes its clubs top buyers. expects that the European “tightening” of wages will lead to the continuation of such deals.

The agency also said that such deals could be a “special goal” of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who seeks to turn the kingdom’s fledgling football into a global power.

And if Riyadh continues to collect big stars, Western clubs may one day lose large profits from trade and television broadcasting rights.

However, realizing this dream will require more time and effort, according to the report, as global fans are still unwilling to follow the Saudi League.

DAZN, a streaming service, has secured the rights to broadcast the Saudi League in six countries for just $500,000, according to Bloomberg.

It is noteworthy that China’s attempt to form a “world league” by attracting European stars over the past decade has not affected the revenues of Western clubs.

With global demand for oil at its peak, the kingdom may soon decide that there are better uses for its cash, so European clubs must seize the money before the “judgement whistle” announces the end of the transfer phase to the Saudi League.

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