According to senior figures at the prominent European Club Association, the massive recruitment campaign being undertaken by the Saudi Pro League does not pose a threat to European football.
However, European parties aim to reach a consensus on the timing of the opening and closing of the Saudi transfer window.
This year, the transfer window in Saudi Arabia has been open for one week longer than it has been in the vast majority of European leagues.
“I don’t think there is a danger,” said Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of the ECA.
The European Club Association (ECA) was established in 2008 with the purpose of representing the interests of clubs located all over Europe. The ECA currently has hundreds of member teams.
Al-Khelaifi, a former tennis player from Qatar who is currently the president of Paris Saint-Germain and has been a member of the executive council of Uefa since 2019, continued by saying, “We believe in ourselves.
“Not only do we have the most prestigious and extensive competitions, but also the most accomplished players. It is not up to me to pass judgment on what is happening in other parts of the world. However, hear this out: the vast majority of clubs sold players to them. Why do we sell our players to them if we aren’t content with the situation? Indeed, that is the case.
“Could it possibly be harmful? I have shared my viewpoint with you. In the event that there is a risk, the European clubs will not remain silent. To my knowledge, there is not currently any threat.”
This summer, the Saudi Pro League has the biggest per-player transfer budget of any league in the world, ranking higher than both Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga. Deloitte estimates that the clubs in the Saudi Pro League have invested a total of £691 million as of this point.
According to BBC Sport, there is financing that is guaranteed for the next ten years, which indicates that the Gulf nation aims for its competition to become one of the most prestigious in the world in the years to come.
In spite of the departure of stars like Karim Benzema, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, and Neymar, amongst others, Al-Khelaifi does not believe that there is an immediate threat to the game played in Europe.
Former Liverpool captain Henderson made a controversial move in July to join Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq. Senegal forward Mane made the switch to Al-Nassr from German side Bayern Munich. Brazil forward Neymar left Paris St. Germain to play for Al-Hilal. Ballon d’Or winner Benzema is now the captain of Al-Ittihad after leaving Real Madrid.
In spite of Al-Khelaifi’s insistence, certain teams have expressed concern regarding the possibility that the Saudi Professional League may be able to sign players currently playing in Europe during the week that has passed since the transfer market for the major European leagues has closed.
Despite the fact that the Premier League season has already begun, Al-Ittihad have not given up on signing Mohamed Salah, a forward currently playing for Liverpool.
“We shouldn’t be worried about it,” said Bayern Munich chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen, who has replaced Oliver Khan as an ECA vice-president. Khan was a former goalkeeper for Germany. “We have a wide variety of exciting competitions. There is no need for us to be fearful.
“However, if the window could be shut at the same time, that would be much more convenient for me.” I would put forth that idea.”
The idea of putting a limit on salaries is one that Al-Khelaifi supports.
There is little question that the spending frenzy in the Saudi Pro League has caused salaries to rise. This might be due to the fact that teams are attempting to keep players on their rosters, or it could be due to the fact that agents are utilizing rumors of interest in players as a negotiating weapon, regardless of whether or not the interest is true.
It has led to renewed calls for a pay cap, but implementing one by regulation will be difficult because of the situation.
After the Professional Footballers’ Association sought arbitration and said it was “unlawful and unenforceable,” the English Football League decided in 2021 to abandon an attempt to implement one for Leagues One and Two, despite the fact that the proposal received support at the club level.
If it is within the bounds of the law, Al-Khelaifi believes that a pay ceiling would be beneficial.
He stated that none of the teams, ranging in size from the largest to the tiniest, are interested in incurring financial losses.
“If we can lawfully get to a solution that rules will allow us, then absolutely everyone will accept it. There is no question about it. Nobody will disagree with you. This is exactly what we had in mind.
“But is it against the law? Can we pull it off? Is there a way to fight this from a legal standpoint? I’m not sure, but I think everyone will want to increase their wealth rather than decrease it.
Soriano was chosen to serve on the ECA board.
Ferran Soriano, chief executive of Manchester City, was the victor in elections held earlier on Wednesday during the ECA’s general assembly in Berlin. These elections were held to fill the vacant Premier League spot on the ECA board.
Martina Pavlova, the international relations manager at Sparta Prague, and Michele Kang, the owner of Olympique Lyonnais Feminine, were elected to the two posts on the board that are reserved for female members. Celtic chair Peter Lawwell was named as a vice-president, and he was given the role.
In addition to that, Pavlova will now serve as vice president.
When asked about the controversy that has surrounded the Spanish Women’s World Cup team and the fact that Luis Rubiales is still serving as president of the Spanish FA, Pavlova responded by saying, “The ECA speaks for itself – its values are clear.”
“It is well knowledge that Rubiales is the subject of certain legal procedures. We are required to sit tight and watch how things play out.