JEDDAH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday launched a Saudi sports clubs’ investment and privatization project, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Part of Vision 2030, the initiative aims to encourage private investment in the sector toward developing national teams, regional sports clubs, and practitioners at all levels.
The current phase of the project involves granting approvals for schemes and transfers of club ownership, as well as the privatization of several sports clubs.
The program has been designed to create opportunities and the right environment for investment in the sports sector, raise levels of professionalism, and administrative and financial governance in sports clubs, while developing their infrastructure to provide the best services to sports fans and improve audience experience.
The transfer and privatization of clubs, in general, aims to achieve qualitative leaps in various sports in the Kingdom by 2030, building an elite generation of athletes at regional and global levels.
Special focus has been placed on football with plans to position the Saudi Pro League among the top 10 in the world. Other goals include increasing league revenues from SR450 million ($120 million) to more than SR1.8 billion annually and raising its market value from SR3 billion to at least SR8 billion.
During a press conference, Saudi Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal announced that four clubs were being converted into companies, having ownership transferred to development agencies.
He said 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 prince also revealed that the Saudi Public Investment Fund would be investing in Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahli and that the clubs would be converted into companies owned by the fund, and a non-profit institution for each club.
“Accordingly, an investment fund will be established for each of the eight club companies whose ownership has been transferred, and the value of the club will be deposited in the investment fund in exchange for the ownership transfer,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Public Investment Fund said that it will own 75 percent of the four clubs. “We will work on developing the four clubs financially and administratively,” the fund said in a statement carried out by Al-Ekhbariyah TV.
Speaking to Arab News, Al-Faisal said: “Let me start off with sending my greatest gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (for) their continuous support to the sports sector within the Kingdom... under the leadership of the crown prince and the ambitious plan within the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia.
“There are a lot of programs and developments for each sector, and the sports sector is one of these sectors of the vision to fulfill these KPIs and these ambitious goals that we wish to achieve by 2030.
“Today, we see a big milestone within the sports sector that the ownership of the clubs has been transferred to a lot of different entities. These entities are some of the biggest entities within Saudi Arabia (not only) from a commercial value, but also these entities have a lot of developmental programs within the sports sector to develop youth and sports within their territory and so on.
He added: “By the end of 2023, we will also offer a number of clubs to be sold to the private sector, and I hope that this will invite more (companies) from the private sector to invest in these clubs and invest in the sports sector within the Kingdom.”