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Despite Cristiano Ronaldo & Neymar’s Move, 75% Seats Empty in Saudi Pro League as They Fail to Fill Stadiums

Published Sep 3, 2023 | 8:49 AM EDT

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The Saudi Pro League has been at the forefront of attention this summer. This, of course, is mainly because the league splurged big on acquiring a host of some of Europe’s best players. Since the start of the SPL season, however, the league is finding it difficult to rake in the numbers in terms of ticket sales and fan attendance at stadiums.

Soccer icons like Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, and other notable names have made their way to the Gulf. Nevertheless, the star power, it seems, is not translating into match attendance.

Saudi Pro League can’t fill stadiums even after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar

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The SPL has begun in prolific fashion this season. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr and Neymar’s Al Hilal have kickstarted the soccer craze in Saudi Arabia and the league has begun in some style.

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According to a tweet on X by media person Kieran Maguire, the Saudi league is seeing significantly low numbers in stadium attendance. Maguire’s tweet states: Saudi Pro League matches yesterday took place in stadiums that were 3/4 empty on average”

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While the quoted tweet says: “Saudi Pro League attendances in Game Week 5 lowest of the season. More people at BHA yesterday (31,620) than any of the 9 Saudi Pro League games @KieranMaguire”

According to the chart pictured in the tweet, the SPL’s gameweek 1 saw only 29.2% capacity. While gameweek 2 saw an increase to 41.1% capacity. And as per the last SPL round of matches, the gameweek 5, attendance was only 24.9%.

A lot of clubs in the UK and Europe accrue considerable income from ticket sales every game, although this varies from club to club. Generally speaking, the UK and Europe see stadiums filled to capacity. So when it comes to club income, ticket sales are a part of their regular income.

Saudi Pro League needs time to grow

If the Saudi Pro League clubs aim to balance their books considering the heavy spending we’ve seen over the summer, they will certainly have to improve their ticket sales and attendance in games.

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This also perhaps echoes the fact that the SPL is yet to attract masses of soccer fans from the country and worldwide. And this is despite signing some superstar players. While the SPL is a new league, the poor fan attendance also reiterates that soccer in the country is yet to catch on. Furthermore, it has to progress and grow in the way soccer has grown in other continents and countries globally.

Also read: Despite $914,084,981 Splurge After Cristiano Ronaldo’s Arrival, Saudi Pro League Falls Behind Premier League’s Billions

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But considering how long it took the Premier League in its modern format to reach the level it has in terms of commercialization since its formation in 1992, there is surely room for the SPL to grow. It’s also fairly certain that the SPL could look to follow models of other successful new leagues. In turn, the SPL will see more popularity as the fledgling league grows in the coming years, so this is perhaps only the start.

Watch this story: Meet the Legendary Tennis Player Who is 3x Richer than Cristiano Ronaldo

Written by:

Gaurav Krishnan

204Articles

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With extensive knowledge & over 8+ years of experience as a soccer journalist, Gaurav knows the intricacies of the beautiful game inside out and is now working with EssentiallySports. He played as a No.10 on the pitch during his younger years, modeling his game around his idol Zinedine Zidane.
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Edited by:

Jayant Chhabra