Cristiano Ronaldo has been bought by a Saudi Arabian Club, Al Nassr, for an astronomical sum of around $75 million per year. This is a huge investment by a Saudi entity in a sports star to boost its prospects in the game. This apart Saudi Arabia has ploughed in enough money in other sports arenas as well. Let us look at its other financial investments in sports.
In September 2021, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, Private Investment Fund (PIF), affirmed its $400+ million buyout of British Premier League (PL) club Newcastle United. Previously, a deal was struck in 2020, but the Premier League body did not approve of the same due to the worry that the Saudi state would have direct control over the affairs of the club. However, once the body received a legally-bound guarantee that the investment group and the government will be segregated, the deal got eventually approved.
PIF has put adequate money into sponsorship initiatives as well. As per a Financial Times report last year, the PIF gave $2.3 billion to soccer sponsorships. Also, PIF portfolio companies Qidddiya and Jeddah Central both inked 20-year financial deals with domestic soccer clubs.
In the year 2021, PIF loosened its purse strings to form a new global golfing circuit, LIV Golf. The LIV’s 2022 edition had 7 “regular-season” events and one team championship tournament as the final event of the year. The most significant aspect was that each LIV Golf event carried a prize pool of $25 million and individual winners got $4 million, which was way above what the PGA Tour event offered.
Even last year, PIF inked a deal to turn the second-largest shareholder in Formula One’s Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant team. It already possesses Aramco, the team’s title sponsor, and now it has a 16.7 percent stake in the team as well. Aramco even has a $40 million annual sponsorship agreement with Formula One. In fact, the Aston Martin investment came on the back of PIF monetary dalliance with another British auto manufacturer, McLaren in 2021.