The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: The new football investment powerhouses
As I leave Chicago for Saudi Arabia, I cannot stop thinking that the two most paid and most famous footballers in the world, Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both playing in the US and, in Saudi Arabia. This reflects the renewed interest in football from both countries.
A striking example of North American investment and market focus in football, is Italy. Nine out of 20 Italian Serie A teams have North American investors, and more US private equity and hedge funds are acquiring undervalued Italian football assets. US family offices and investment funds also control 6 Italian Serie B league’s teams. These acquisitions and investments reflect the US increased interest in monetizing football. Inter Miami, until recently an underperforming football team owned by Football start David Beckham, acquired Leo Messi in July, and in so doing doubled the team’s value. According to Forbes, the team value was 600 M before Messi’s arrival. Based on new trophies, revenues projections, and investments, the team could be worth 1.3 billion by the end of 2023. This savvy Inter-Miami acquisition is propelling US football to new highs, changing the industry business model forever.
Saudi Arabia football momentum: Between 2022 and 2023 Saudi Arabian teams Al-Nassr, Al-Illal and Al-Ittihad, acquired Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, the most followed athlete on social media with 600 million fans, Neymar Jr. the Brazilian Superstar, and Karim Benzema, the most famous French footballer. These acquisitions are backed by the $ 660 billion Sovereign Wealth Fund Public Investment Fund (PIF). PIF is led by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS), who wants to turn the kingdom into a major football super-power. The Saudis have put their money where their mouth is, investing over $ 2.3 billion since 2022 to upgrade football infrastructures, to host global tournaments and to hire top coaches and players. Saudi also teamed up with Greece and Egypt to host the FIFA world cup in 2030, a bid they are hoping to win. PIF backed investment are all linked to Vision 2030, the strategic business plan aiming to re-invent the Saudi economy away from oil and natural gas.
Abu-Dhabi and Prince Mansour Football Ambition: Another football powerhouse, is United Arab Emirate…