Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund will take control of four of the kingdom’s top football clubs including Al Nassr, which Cristiano Ronaldo plays for, as the government revives a plan to privatise several state-owned sports clubs, APA reports citing Al Jazeera.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) will own 75 percent of Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal, the sports ministry said on Twitter on Monday, following a report by state news agency SPA that Saudi Arabia will privatise several sports clubs from the fourth quarter.
All are in the top-flight Saudi Professional League, except Al Ahli which is in the second-tier Saudi First Division. PIF has previously taken over several companies before privatising them, though often partially.
Unlike the Premier League and other European teams, Saudi clubs are not bound by UEFA’s rules on spending, meaning there is no limit to the salaries the PIF can offer to lure top players to the Middle East.
Sports is one of the pillars of the government’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan that seeks to build new industries and create jobs – and PIF is at the centre of that scheme.
The privatisation plan, mainly focused on football clubs and launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, allows companies and development agencies to invest in and take over clubs, SPA reported.