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Friday, September 29, 2023

Saudi Clubs Outspend All With $875m Except Premier League

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Football clubs in Saudi Arabia spent $875.4 million bringing in foreign players from June 1 to Sept. 1, according to FIFA’s latest International Transfer Snapshot. Only English clubs, with a tab of $1.98 billion, outspent them during the period.

Saudi Arabia was the number two in spending with a total of USD 875.4 million, ahead of France (USD 859.7 million), Germany (USD 762.4 million), Italy(711.0 million) and Spain (USD 405.6 million). As a result, clubs from the AFC region accounted for 14.0% of the global transfer spending, marking the first time that teams from a confederation other than UEFA have surpassed 10% of the total.

The spending spree on top-flight footballers has instantly turned the Saudi league into one of the game’s biggest transfer markets—leapfrogging football powerhouses like Spain’s Laliga and Italy’s Serie A.

This year, Brazilian star Neymar, Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and former Liverpool FC captain Jordan Henderson all made the move to Saudi Arabia for big money contracts.

The signings followed the game-changing arrival of Portuguese icon Cristiano Ronaldo to the Saudi Pro League in late 2022.

An all-time top figure of USD 7.36 billion was spent on transfer fees in the 2023 mid-year window, which represents an increase of 47.2% compared to the 2022 mid-year period and 26.8% compared to the previous mid-year record set in 2019.

The 2023 FIFA report also highlights how far Saudi Arabia has to go in developing local, top-flight talent.

It generated transfer receipts of just $15.7 million from player sales from June 1 and Sept. 1, ranking it 34th. The Saudi Pro League transfer window officially shut on Sept. 7.

Emilio García Silvero, FIFA Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, commented: “England topped the list in the 2023mid-year period when it came to spending on transfer fees (USD 1.98 billion), the number of incoming transfers (449)and the number of outgoing transfers (514). Germany, however, was the number one in terms of receipts from transfer fees (USD 1.11 billion) – this being the first time ever that clubs from a single association have received more than USD 1 billion in the mid-year transfer window alone.”

Agent fees also reached a new high, with USD 696.6 million paid during the mid-year window, bringing the total for 2023 to date to USD 853.0 million, which is 36.9% higher than in the whole of 2022 and more than in any other year.

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