The General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia has signed strategic partnerships with LaLiga, which operates the top two divisions of Spanish football, and English Premier League club Manchester United.
The GSA has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with United, through which the club will help the organisation develop Saudi Arabia’s football industry as part of its 2030 Vision.
The Saudi Vision 2030 was announced last year by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and is designed to diversify the Saudi economy and develop the country’s public sectors.
United will provide Saudi clubs, authorities and individuals with business and sporting expertise as part of the agreement.
Turki Al-Shikh, chairman of the GSA, added: “This relationship is part of an exciting programme we are undertaking to transform sport in Saudi Arabia. Manchester United has a phenomenal reputation for delivery in these areas. We believe their knowledge and experience will be invaluable in making this project successful.”
The GSA’s multi-year partnership with LaLiga, meanwhile, will seek to grow Saudi football across all levels. The agreement will present a range of branding opportunities and also includes an academy partnership and a talent ID scouting initiative for young footballers in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation will be granted rights to create and develop local football academies in the country under the brand, technical supervision and expertise of LaLiga. It is hoped the scouting initiative will lead to young Saudi Arabia-based players being placed in LaLiga academies.
The GSA’s partnerships with United and LaLiga mark the body's latest moves to strengthen Saudi Arabia's position within the global sports market. Earlier this week, a deal was signed for the country’s capital, Riyadh, to become the first city in the Middle East to stage the Race of Champions, with the motorsport event to be held early next year. The GSA also struck a deal to stage the inaugural edition of the World Boxing Super Series’ cruiserweight final in Jeddah. The final will be held in the city next May.
United’s group managing director, Richard Arnold, said: “The club has a long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia and has over five million passionate fans in the region. Our partnership with Saudi Telecom is the longest running of all our commercial partners. Having the chance to help shape the football industry in the Kingdom is a great honour and it is something where we believe we can make a big difference.
“I hope that this strategic alliance will benefit generations of Saudi footballers, supporters and young professionals looking to work in football well beyond Saudi Vision 2030.”