Qatar operation Al-Shaqab cuts contract of Frankie Dettori in half

Franke Dettori will earn half as much as he previously did when riding for Sheikh Joaan. (Reuters)
Updated 30 January 2018
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Qatar operation Al-Shaqab cuts contract of Frankie Dettori in half

LONDON: The Al-Shaqab Racing operation has come under further financial scrutiny after news emerged that it has halved the contract of its leading jockey.
According to The Times, three-time Champion jockey Frankie Dettori has had his six-figure contract with Al-Shaqab reduced by 50 percent in a move that comes weeks after the same paper revealed the operation owed more than £1 million (US1.4 million) in unpaid fees to a number of Britain’s leading flat racing trainers. Al-Shaqab Racing, which runs a 170-horse operation, is fronted by Sheikh Joaan Al-Thani, the brother of the emir of Qatar.
Dettori joined Al-Shaqab in July 2013 after ending his 18-year association with the Godolphin stables, owned by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, in October 2012. He was handed a six-figure contract by the Qataris to ride horses in Britain including Galileo Gold to English Guineas and Royal Ascot glory and Olympic Glory to the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, but that has now been renegotiated after Al-Shaqab shifted much of its focus to France.
“They have reduced the number of horses by 50 percent in Britain and the contract makes allowance for that,” Peter Burrell, Dettori’s agent, told The Times. “It would be correct to say that (the retainer) was a substantial six-figure sum,” Burrell said.

News of Dettori’s revised one-year contract comes on the back of reports that Al-Shaqab owed more than £1 million in a backlog of unpaid invoices, including Dettori and a number of leading trainers. Al-Shaqab apologized to the trainers to whom it owed money when The Times broke the story, but the cash crisis is likely to be a source of embarrassment for Sheikh Joaan.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that has put us all in some difficulty,” one trainer told The Guardian. “Obviously there must be money. They’re one of the richest states in the world. I don’t know what the problem has been. I’ve had to ask my bank to extend the overdraft.”
Khalifa Al-Attiyah, the general manager and a close associate of Sheikh Joaan, blamed an organizational restructuring and an accounting review for the backlog in payments, denying it was because of Qatar’s diplomatic crisis.
“The blockade against Qatar had many consequences socially and politically but not for this situation,” he said. “This is purely an issue due to the financial review taking longer than expected time. We do apologize and it is not something we wanted to happen or take lightly. We are in the middle of restructuring the whole organization.” He said all invoices would be paid “in the coming weeks.”
The Times reports that only some have been paid in full while others have received partial amounts. One leading Newmarket trainer said that he had been paid about one third of what he was owed, which amounted to more than £200,000.
At the beginning of the month, when the cash-flow story was first published, Dettori was understood not to have been paid since August, The Times reported. It is not known whether that unpaid bill has since been settled.


London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

Updated 16 August 2018
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London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

  • Super Cup final in UK capital can boost Saudi football's image around the world, claims SAFF official
  • SAFF defends number of foreign players allowed to play in Saudi Pro League claiming they help raise the standard.

LONDON: Saturday’s Super Cup final between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad in London will not just be a great experience for the players, but also a chance to showcase the best of Saudi Arabian football on an international stage ahead of what should be a season to remember.
That is according to Luai Al-Subaiey, the General Secretary of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF)ahead of the cup clash at Loftus Road, the home of Queen’s Park Rangers. The match is the traditional season curtain-raiser that features the champions and the winners of the King’s Cup. And with holding fixtures overseas a growing trend in modern football, Al-Subaiey told Arab News the decision to play the match in London was a no-brainer.
“Club teams from one country playing in another country is commonplace,” Al-Subaiey said.
“Teams from the English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese leagues played in the US this summer. The Spanish Super Cup was played in Morocco last week.
“We do it because it is good for our players to gather more international experience, to learn what it’s like to play in large overseas stadia, and of course, there is a large Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern population living and working in London, (roughly) 300,000 people there.”
Al-Subaiey and Co. are confident that a great game in London this Saturday will be a springboard to a great season to come, especially with leading clubs in the country active in the international transfer market.
With eight overseas players allowed in Saudi Arabian teams in the upcoming Saudi Pro League season, there have been concerns that opportunities for local talent could be reduced. Al-Subaiey, however, believes that importing quality players can only be a good thing.
“Foreign players in the Saudi League will help improve the quality of football,” he said.
“But it also needs to be managed and balanced with the need to nourish domestic talent and provide our homegrown players with a pathway to the top.”
International stars such as Omar Abdulrahman have a part to play in the development of the Saudi Pro League and its ambition to be one of the leading leagues in the world. The United Arab Emirates playmaker joined Al-Hilal earlier in August in a season-long loan deal worth a reported $15 million — the second highest in football history.
As well as Abdulrahman, Al-Hilal have signed Peruvian international Andre Carrillo, who scored at the World Cup this summer, as well as former Barcelona defender Alberto Botia. Al-Nassr have bought Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Leicester City and Nordin Amrabat from Watford.
“Has Wayne Rooney added something to DC United and the MLS? Has Omar Abdulrahman added to Al-Hilal? Of course, additions like these improve the quality of football,” Al-Subaiey said. “For the fans, these players bring excitement, and for the clubs and their league, these players bring a higher profile and greater attention — but there is something deeper too.”
For the official, what the best players bring is attitude and the utmost professionalism.
“Central to high performance sport is the right mindset. People like Rooney and Abdulrahman bring a great work ethic and possess great skills — but they also possess a professional mindset. And the young players who will work with them will see this, experience this — and learn from this.”
If all goes according to plan Saudi Arabia will qualify for the 2022 World Cup and perhaps even
progress to the second round for the first time since 1994. In Russia the Green Falcons started off with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the hosts in the opening game in Moscow. The team tightened up before losing narrowly to Uruguay, and then going on to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final game.
“We were absolutely delighted to be at the World Cup,” Al-Subaiey said.
“As you can tell with teams like Italy, Holland and the USA not qualifying and teams like Germany and Argentina not progressing (far in the tournament), the standard of play in international football is very high.
“Our particular group was quite challenging, and our initial game against host Russia, one of the biggest surprises of the World Group, was a difficult first match. Our final game, our win against Egypt, was a World Cup high point for our team. It was a match our young players and our national program can build on.”