Ronaldo’s Club Will Be Taken Over By A Saudi Wealth Fund
June 6, 2023 / By Zunair Tahir / Sport News
As the government revives a proposal to privatise a number of state-owned sports organizations, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia will assume ownership of four of the biggest football teams in the country, including Al-Nassr, where Cristiano Ronaldo now plays.
Following a report by Saudi Arabia’s state news agency SPA that the country will begin privatizing a number of sports clubs in the fourth quarter, the sports ministry said on Twitter on Monday that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) will control 75% of al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr, and Al-Hilal.
With the exception of Al-Ahli, who plays in the Saudi First Division, all are in the top-flight Saudi Professional League. PIF has already taken control of a number of businesses before partially privatizing them.
One of the cornerstones of the government’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy, which is focused on PIF and strives to establish new businesses and generate employment, is sports.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s privatization proposal, which is primarily aimed at football clubs, permits businesses and development organizations to invest in and assume control of clubs, according to SPA earlier on Monday.
By 2030, the Saudi Professional League’s income is expected to climb from 450 million Saudi Riyals to 1.8 billion Riyals ($480 million). Over the same time period, it anticipates that its market value will increase from 3 billion riyals to over 8 billion.
Al-Suqoor, a Second Division football team, will become a corporation and be controlled by NEOM, the organisation driving the kingdom’s plan to construct a futuristic metropolis in the desert, according to the sports ministry.
Al-Qadsiah of the Saudi First Division will be owned by the Saudi oil firm Aramco, Alula FC of the Third Division by the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, and al-Diraiyah FC of the First Division by the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
According to reports, Saudi Arabia recruited the local private investment bank Jadwa Investment in February 2017 to provide advice on the privatization of up to five football clubs.
However, the country’s football federation’s then-president stated in early 2019: “I don’t know whether it will be 2020 or 2022 until the plan is ready.” The monarchy has been investing much in improving its football position in the meanwhile. In October 2021, Newcastle United of the Premier League was purchased by a group led by PIF.
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