After Mohamed Salah...Saudi Arabia tries to join new UEFA،expanding from 32to36 teams
Saudi Arabia is interested in discussions about joining Europe’s top football club tournament، the UEFA Champions League، which in the 2024-2025 season will see the contest expand from 32 teams to 36، with more teams outside the old continent being allowed to enter، as the kingdom spends hundreds of millions of dollars to attract some of the world’s best players to its domestic league and shake up the sport، however، it couldnot buy the Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah from Liverpool club.
Saudi Arabia reportedly signals interest in Europe’s top football club tournament، by eyeing a groundbreaking “wild card” entry into the UEFA Champions League after spending hundreds of millions of dollars to attract some of the world’s best players.
Saudi Arabia propose to the UEFA Champions League with a wild card
Bloomberg News Agency mentioned that Saudi Arabia aims for UEFA Champions League presence with ‘Wild Card’ Proposal with the Champions League cup set to undergo a major change in format next year، a loophole entry is possible.
Carlo Nohra، the Saudi Pro League’s chief operating officer، affirmed that Saudi Arabia Pro League winner could enter into UEFA Champions League as the 2024-2025 Champions League season will see the contest expand from 32 to 36 teams، with more teams being allowed to enter.
UEFA Champions League limited to teams playing in Europe or its members
He indicated that Saudi Arabia is trying to be different، so any kind of format changing or improvements in UEFA Champions League that can be introduced into the league will be welcomed، although the competition has been limited to teams playing in Europe or who are members of UEFA but the Corriere dello Sport report claims football authorities in the Kingdom are set to propose a “wildcard” entry into the league.
Saudi Arabia wants the winner of its Pro League to enter into the UEFA Champions League competition، however، the Saudi Arabia Pro League is still “completely committed” to being in the AFC Champions League، which is Asia’s premier club competition، but in terms of making money، the Saudi Pro League remains a minnow relative to the world’s top football leagues.
Teams of Saudi Arabia joining Europe’s Champions League
Carlo Nohra، the Saudi Pro League’s chief operating officer stated that any talks about Saudi teams joining Europe’s Champions League would probably be between its organiser، UEFA، and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation.
UEFA Champions League members include a few non-European countries، such as Kazakhstan، whose clubs can participate in the Champions League، according to Zvonimir Boban chief of European football’s governing body.
Saudi Arabia spent $650 million in recent months recruiting players
Saudi Arabia has spent about $650 million in recent months recruiting players، including Karim Benzema from Real Madrid، Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar and Jordan Henderson from Liverpool، so it remains to be seen what the future holds for ambitious Saudi teams.
The kingdom of Saudi Arabia tried to attract Argentina’s Lionel Messi with a massive pay package، but he chose to join Inter Miami in the United States instead and Saudi club Al-Ittihad wanted also to buy Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah، but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp refused.
The Kingdom bought some of the best talents
Carlo Nohra، the Saudi Pro League’s chief operating officer who previously worked for World Wrestling Entertainment، revealed that Saudi Arabia is doing whatever it takes to have those players coming to the kingdom but that doesn’t mean it’s an open-ended budget، but we cannot handcuff ourselves if we want to bring some of the best talents here by paying the going rates to bring them here.
However، the purchase of such prominent players underscores Saudi’s grand ambitions as it looks to diversify from oil by making huge investments in everything from sports to new cities and electric cars while the Saudi Pro League has also pushed hard in the past year to attract more sponsors and sign broadcast deals with international media companies.
Saudi Arabia games are now aired in around 140 countries
Carlo Nohra is glad to announce that Saudi Arabia games are now aired in around 140 countries and broadcast revenue has increased %650 since Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo joined from Manchester United late in 2022.
They are not massive revenues to finance all the activities that we’ve got in Saudi Arabia، but it’s certainly significant movement as the Saudi Pro League’s growth is a long-term process and there is no set timeline for when it wants to break even، Carlo Nohra added.
Carlo Nohra explained that driving the enterprise value of the Saudi Arabia league and the clubs is definitely at the heart of what we do and if that makes the clubs and the league an investible asset، then we would have achieved the objective.
Saudi Arabia has got to move fast، strategically and effectively
However، Simon Chadwick، professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Paris’ Skema Business School sees that Saudi Arabia is up against the clock، is being exposed to oil-price fluctuations، has got to move fast and strategically as well as effectively.
It said Saudi football bosses are planning to grant the winner of the Saudi Pro League entry into the elite UEFA European football competition، thanks to its world stars including Roberto Firmino، Sadio Mane، Jordan Henderson، Neymar، Karim Benzema، N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez have all lifted the trophy، as well as Al Ettifaq manager and former Liverpool star Steven Gerrard.
A direct route into Europe’s premier club competition
The Saudi plan aims to provide the Saudi domestic league champions with a direct route into Europe’s premier club competition and this entry would challenge the traditional format of the European football structure but precise rulings on what will be expected to gain entry into the biggest international club football competition next year، and football insiders are hopeful the Kingdom’s profile and potential could be raised even higher.
If this proposal finds favor within UEFA، it could signify a return for some of football’s biggest names to the European stage and if accepted، the proposal would also help Saudi football establish its presence at the forefront of the world sport.
Complicated negotiations for UEFA to undergo structural transformation
Yet، convincing UEFA to undergo a structural transformation of their flagship tournament will require navigating complicated negotiations، the pathway to implementation is far from straightforward and overcoming potential resistance from various stakeholders.
But with Saudi Arabia’s considerable financial resources and the influx of top-tier talent into their domestic league، the prospect of a Saudi team making an appearance in the Champions League has become increasingly plausible، despite resistance from fans as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo، Karim Benzema، and Neymar، who have recently joined the Saudi Pro League، might once again grace Europe’s premier competition if the proposal is accepted.