According to the chief operating officer, Carlo Nohra, the significant investments made to attract top players to Saudi Arabia this season are not a one-time occurrence.
Instead, they are part of a larger plan to establish the Saudi Arabia Pro League as one of the best in the world.
Nohra expressed confidence that the country’s football enthusiasts would be drawn to stadiums in the upcoming season, which commences on Friday, due to their strategy of aggressively signing renowned players.
Saudi Arabia clubs have invested over 400 million euros ($439 million) during the transfer window to acquire players from top European teams. These signings include Ballon d’Or recipient Karim Benzema from Real Madrid, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, and treble winner Riyad Mahrez from Manchester City. This spending spree follows Al-Nassr’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo in December, who reportedly earns a salary exceeding $200 million annually.
According to Transfermarkt, the Saudi League is ranked as the fifth highest-spending league in the current transfer window, surpassing Spain’s LaLiga.
“It’s very straightforward and I tie it back to our strategy,” Nohra told Reuters. “One of the very first objectives that the Saudi Pro League was set was to improve the product.”
“We had to improve quality and in order to improve quality, you have to bring in the best. Spending was always going to be an essential component for us to do this.”
“What you’re seeing is simply the Saudi Pro League doing what other leagues needed to do … We have joined these ranks, and we’re doing whatever it takes to improve quality on the pitch.”
Nohra mentioned that it would take time for the league’s strategy to fully develop and that the spending would persist.
“Look, this is definitely a journey,” he said. “This is not just for one weekend. We’ve set out to achieve this objective to be one of the top 10 leagues in the world.”
“We have a mission, and that is to unleash the potential we have to drive change.”
“We want to become one of the recognised leaders for excellence in governance, in club development and player acquisition, and also in commercialization.”
Saudi Arabia has reportedly set aside over $17 billion to assist clubs as part of their “Vision 2030” plan for economic and social reform. However, Nohra clarified that each transfer period would be handled separately.
“I go back to the answer I gave you a little earlier that to improve quality on the pitch, we have to spend money,” he said.
“There is a commitment to spend money to bring in that quality, but it has not been quantified and certainly not quantified for such a long period until 2030.”
“We’re taking it one window at a time. But yes, in order to improve quality, we have to pay for it.”
There is a lot of speculation that the league will sign more well-known players before the transfer window closes on September 7th. Fans are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.
“The excitement is definitely palpable,” Nohra said. “In this football mad country, where football is in the DNA, we’ve just had our biggest season yet in terms of attendance and broadcast coverage.”
”We’re just as excited as the fans are. For us, this really is a moment when the strategy actually comes to life and we start delivering for the Saudi people the quality entertainment they deserve from the sport that they really love.”
“Let us remember that this is a country where 80% of the population either plays, watches or attends matches, so we have no concerns that fans will flock to watch the new stars that will be on parade.”