Sports, and football in particular, have become more than just a game. Rather, they have turned into a field governed by the rules of investment, industry, television competition, and advertising contracts. It is no longer strange for a company or financial entity to bet on a football team to achieve a mutual benefit, ensuring an improvement in the team’s financial capabilities, and achieving a profit for the investing party. In this context, the Saudi Investment Fund has completed the acquisition of the English club Newcastle, and all that remains is the official announcement, which has not yet been made. The news brought up the issue of sports investment, and revived the debate about the sports and sports benefits of investment, in exchange for enumerating its negatives, whether in terms of inflated wages for players or in terms of the game losing its aesthetics as a result of its transformation into an arena for speculation.
The English Premier League
The English Premier League has become an ideal destination for many investors in recent years, given the levels it offers and the nature of competition it governs, as well as the weight of this league compared to some European leagues, which reflects the step taken by the Saudi Public Investment Fund to buy Newcastle United.
Press sources suggested that the successful experience experienced by Manchester City was behind the decision taken by Saudi officials to invest in the sport of football, and to direct their choice towards the English Premier League to take this step.
Press reports revealed that the Saudi Public Investment Fund is close to buying Newcastle United, which could turn the team, which has been declining for a long time, into a major force in the Premier League.
The value of the deal is estimated at approximately 300 million pounds ($370 million), under which the fund will acquire 80 percent of the club, with the remaining share going to other investors.
These investments can generate significant profits. On the other hand, sports investments can come with some regulatory risks. Market fluctuations, injuries to key players, and changes in team performance can affect the return on investment. Furthermore, some legal and ethical challenges may also arise, especially with regard to sports betting sites while these sites can offer profits to participants due to the growing popularity of online sports betting, they also raise concerns about problem gambling, the integrity of sports, and operators’ adherence to KYC and responsible gambling.
Sports analysts point out that Saudi Arabia is now thoughtfully directing its investments in response to the “Saudi 2030” vision, which seeks to adapt to the changes that the world is experiencing in various sectors, especially football. They confirm the status that Riyadh has enjoyed after the remarkable success it has achieved in hosting many international sporting activities recently, such as the Italian and Spanish Super Cup matches, international friendly matches for national teams, and the International Dakar Rally.
James Dorsey, owner of the blog and book “The Turbulent World of Football in the Middle East,” defines football as a window through which social, political and economic developments in a country can be followed, and this is what can be observed by looking at the developments on the Saudi scene, since the revelation of the Crown Prince. Mohammed bin Salman on the details of the ambitious plan to develop the Kingdom’s policies.
Press reports review the three most important previous acquisitions of English clubs that have achieved remarkable success after the transfer of ownership, the most important of which is Manchester City.
The “New” Manchester City
Football is a window through which one can follow social, political and economic developments in a country
For decades, City has been stuck in the shadow of its powerful neighbour, Manchester United. He ended the last match of the 2007-2008 season, which preceded the takeover deal, with a miserable defeat, 1-8, against Middlesbrough. The club also suffered from difficult circumstances to the point where Belgian Vincent Kompany revealed the suffering that the players experienced as a result of the lack of the most basic equipment in the changing rooms and on the field.