Saudi caps football club spending amid privatisation plans

Teams will also be prevented from registering more than seven foreign players



The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has announced spending limits and other major changes to rules governing clubs amid wider privatisation plans.

Among the reforms for the 2019-2020 season, announced by Saudi Press Agency, is a reduction in the number of first team players each team can select from 33 to 28.

Teams will also be restricted from registering more than seven foreign players and must have at least five Saudi players under the age of 23.

Clubs’ total expenditure must not exceed their gross income and salaries of coaches and playing staff must not exceed 70 per cent of expenditure, with the remaining 30 per cent to be spent on administration, operations and investment.

The federation has adopted international classifications in contracts with players “provided that the ranking of the player’s team does not exceed the 100th position at the conclusion of the contract”.

Ticket allocations will be set at 80 per cent for the home team and 20 percent for the away team during games with the exception of the final match of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup, and the Cup of the General Authority of Sport.

The federation is also introducing a specialised company to raise the remuneration and “efficiency” of Saudi referees and new licencing requirements for technical and medical staff.

In February last year, the Saudi government hired investment bank Jadwa Investment to advise on the privatisation of up to five football clubs in the Saudi Professional League.

Read: Saudi hires Jadwa Investment to advise on privatisation of football clubs

This followed the government’s approval of plans to turn state-owned sports clubs into private companies the previous November under the kingdom’s wider reform plan to diversify the economy.