Saudi Pro League teams face tighter spending, player caps

Al-Ain and Al-Hial are among the clubs who will have to watch their spending and the make up of their squad. (AFP)
Updated 29 April 2018

Saudi Pro League teams face tighter spending, player caps

  • Clubs can't spend more than they earn and must limit wages
  • Only 28 players can be registered in the squad

Football clubs in the Kingdom will have to spend within their means from the start of the 2019-20 league season following new fair-play regulations announced by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) on Saturday.
The new rules require clubs to limit their annual expenditure and avoid exceeding their revenues for the same period. Clubs will also have to keep total spending on wages for players and staff capped at 70 percent of total expenditure, while the remaining 30 percent is allocated to investment, operational and administrative costs.
In its periodic meeting held in Jeddah on Tuesday, the SAFF made a number of decisions related to squad players registration and eligibility. Teams will now be allowed to register a maximum of 28 players in their league squad, down from 33 players this season. The quota of foreign players per team was kept at seven without restrictions on nationalities, while two additional squad berths have been designated for Saudi-born foreign players.
Young Saudi talents are set to benefit from the new regulations with the SAFF announcing that clubs will be required to include five U-23 Saudi players in their 28-man squads for the league.
New transfer regulations coming into effect at the start of the 2019-20 season stipulate that foreign players cannot be signed unless the national team of the member association they belong to is ranked 100th or higher in the FIFA rankings at the time of the player joining a Saudi club. The rule is meant to increase the level of foreign talent brought into the league.
Out of 98 foreign players active in the Saudi Pro League this season, only three come from nations ranked 100 or below: Libya’s Muaid Ellafi at Al-Shabab, Kuwait’s Fahd Al-Ansari at Al-Ittihad and Burundi’s Cedric Amiss at Al-Tawoun.
Foreign referees officiated 113 matches in the Saudi Pro League this season — 62 percent of the fixtures — which is higher than any previous season in the competition’s history. This drop in Saudi referees numbers has prompted the SAFF to launch of a specialized independent organization to develop Saudi referees.
The organization will serve as a supporting body to the SAFF’s refereeing committee, with its objectives including raising referees’ wages to match global standards, creating development and training programs to improve competency levels of Saudi referees and conducting annual reviews of referees’ performances according to the highest international standards.
The development of Saudi professionals featured heavily in the changes announced by the SAFF on its official Twitter account on Saturday and was not limited to referees. Each club will be required to have at least one Saudi assistant coach, holding a football coaching A license in addition to one Saudi member in the team’s medical staff starting in 2019-20 season. Head coaches of all Saudi clubs must hold a professional coaching license from one of the continental football confederations.
Finally, regulations on the split of attendance at football stadiums have been standardised, with the home team allocated 80 percent of the stands, while the remaining 20 percent is directed to the away support. This rule will apply to all competitions apart from the King’s Cup final and the Super Cup final for which attendance will be split 50-50 regardless of the host venue.
In other changes, SAFF will allow four national team players to return to their club side Al-Ahli for the AFC Champions League round of 16 clashes against Qatar’s Al-Sadd on May 7 and 14.
Goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, defender Motaz Hawsawi, midfielder Hussein Al-Moqahwi and striker Mohannad Assiri will all be excused from Juan Antonio Pizzi’s squad and will miss Saudi Arabia’s friendly matches against Algeria and Greece on May 9 and May 15.


Premier League legend Ashley Cole announces retirement, plans move into coaching

Updated 18 August 2019

Premier League legend Ashley Cole announces retirement, plans move into coaching

LONDON: Former England defender Ashley Cole is planning a move into coaching after announcing his retirement from football.

Cole won 13 major titles during his 20-year career, including the 2012 Champions League with Chelsea, three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.

The 38-year-old Cole, who also won 107 caps for England, announced his retirement Sunday while working as a pundit on British broadcaster Sky Sports.

"After hard thinking and consideration, it was obviously time to hang my boots up and look towards my next chapter, which will hopefully be coaching. I'm doing a course at the moment," Cole said. "Now I want to be great at being a coach."

Cole said he was most proud of his haul of England caps. Only Peter Shilton, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Bobby Moore have made more appearances for the country.

Cole began his career with Arsenal and, after a brief loan spell at Crystal Palace, went on to make more than 200 appearances for the Gunners, lifting the FA Cup three times and winning the Premier League twice. He was a member of the "Invincibles" team which went through the 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten.

He left the club in acrimonious circumstances in 2006 and was fined £100,000 ($121,500) — later reduced to £75,000 on appeal — for his part in an illegal approach from Chelsea in 2005, the club he would join the following year.

Cole won the FA Cup in his first season at Stamford Bridge and four times in total and also won the Premier League in 2010 and the Champions League in 2012, scoring in the penalty shootout as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich.

After leaving Chelsea in 2014, Cole had spells with Roma and LA Galaxy before ending his playing career under former Chelsea teammate Frank Lampard at Derby in England's second tier.