|Organising body||Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF)|
|Number of teams||18 (since 2023–24)|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||First Division League|
|Domestic cup(s)||King Cup|
|International cup(s)||AFC Champions League|
Arab Club Champions Cup
|Current champions||Al-Ittihad (9th title) |
|Most championships||Al-Hilal (18 titles)|
|Most appearances||Mohamed Al-Deayea (406)|
|Top goalscorer||Majed Abdullah (189 goals)|
|TV partners||Shahid and SSC (MENA)|
|Current: 2023–24 Saudi Pro League|
The first season of competition was the 1976–77 season. The league had been operating as a round-robin tournament from its inaugural season until the 1989–90 season, after that the Saudi Federation decided to merge the football League with the King's Cup in one tournament and the addition of the Golden Box. The Golden Box would be an end of season knockout competition played between the top four teams of the regular league season. These teams would play at a semi-final stage to crown the champions of Saudi Arabia. The league reverted to a round-robin system in the 2007–08 season.
The association is also regularly ranked with the highest coefficient in Asia due to successful and consistent performances in the AFC Champions League by its clubs. Al-Hilal is the most successful team, holding 18 titles in its history and most recently winning the title in 2021–22. Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr are also some of the most successful teams in the league.
Beginning in 2023, the league has experienced international widespread exposure due to attracting numerous top level players from European leagues through financially lucrative contracts, immediately becoming a star-studded league. The nation's Public Investment Fund took 75% stakes in four founding members (Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, and Al-Nassr) in the same year as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program.
Up until the late 1950s, football in Saudi Arabia was organized on a regional basis, with the only nationwide tournament being the King's Cup. In 1957, the first qualification process consolidated the regional tournaments of the Central, West, East, and North regions. Clubs competed in their regional leagues to qualify for the King's Cup, which was the final stage of the competition. The winner of the King's Cup was not the league winner.
1976 saw the start of the first-ever professional football league in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with eight teams, the following season the number of clubs increased to ten. The 1981–82 season saw the merger of both the Saudi Premier League and the Saudi First Division for that season exclusively to the concern of the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualification process. Twenty teams were divided into two groups, A and B. The top two in each group would enter a semi-final stage to determine the overall champions. In the following season which reverted back to regular round-robin competition, the number of first-division clubs was later increased to 12 in the 1984–85 season.
In December 1990, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation decided to merge the league with the King Cup in one tournament, it was decided to revamp local competitions and introduce professional football. A new league championship was formed called "The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques League Cup", which was a two-stage championship. The first stage was a regular double round-robin league competition with the top 4 qualifying for the final knockout stage, called the golden box. Clubs were allowed to sign players on a professional basis making the league semi-professional. This system lasted for seventeen seasons before reverting to a regular round-robin competition. The league became fully professional in 2007.
As of 2008, depending on the nation's coefficient, four teams from Saudi Arabia qualify for the AFC Champions League annually. This includes the top three positions of the league, together with the winner of the King Cup. If the winner of the King Cup is also among the top three teams then the fourth-best team qualifies for the play-offs, and if the winner of the King Cup is not in the top three league positions in the league, the top two will qualify directly for the group stages while the third team will qualify for the AFC Champions League play-offs.
2023–24 acquisitions from Europe edit
The Saudi Pro League made international headlines in 2023 due to many players from other leagues, particularly those in Europe, transferring to clubs for the 2023–24 season. Cristiano Ronaldo was the first star signing to the league, with the BBC deeming that he led this "revolution" in Asian football. Upon his move to Al-Hilal, Neymar also credited Ronaldo for the immediate transformation of the league. Other players who joined the league include Ballon d'Or-holder Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kanté, Roberto Firmino, Marcelo Brozović, Sergej Milinković-Savić, Sadio Mané, Riyad Mahrez, Jordan Henderson, Jack Hendry and Otávio According to Spanish publication Marca the league has "shaken up the European transfer market". The nation's Public Investment Fund took 75% stakes in four founding members (Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal, and Al-Nassr) in June 2023 as part of the Saudi Vision 2030 program. These actions have been described as a "sportswashing" scheme by some western journalists.
Starting in the 2009–10 season, the league was sponsored by Zain Group. From the 2013–14 season until the 2017–18 season, Abdul Latif Jameel was sponsor and the league was known as Dawry Jameel, until a major restructuring of Saudi football, under which the league's name reverted to the Saudi Pro League. From 2022, for a five-year period, the sponsor of the league is Roshn, a real estate division of the Public Investment Fund.
Competition format edit
There are 18 clubs in the Saudi Pro League. During the course of a season (usually from August to May) each club plays the other clubs twice (a double round-robin system), once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for 34 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by position on the league table depending on points, then the head-to-head record between the tied teams is taken into consideration, and then goal difference.
Promotion and relegation edit
A system of promotion and relegation exists between the Saudi Pro League and Saudi First Division League. The three lowest-placed teams in the Saudi Pro League are relegated to the First Division and the top three teams from the First Division are promoted to the Saudi Pro League.
Current teams edit
For details on the 2023–24 Saudi Pro League season, see here.
- Note: Table lists in alphabetical order.
List of champions edit
Performance by club edit
Total titles won by city edit
|Club||Number of titles||Clubs|
|Al-Hilal (18), Al-Nassr (9), Al-Shabab (6)|
|Al-Ittihad (9), Al-Ahli (3)|
League participation edit
As of 2023, 38 clubs have participated in the Saudi football top division. Note: The tallies below include up to the 2023–24 season. Teams denoted in bold are current participants.
- 48 seasons: Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad, Al-Nassr
- 47 seasons: Al-Shabab, Al-Ahli
- 45 seasons: Al-Ettifaq
- 39 seasons: Al-Wehda
- 36 seasons: Al-Qadsiah
- 25 seasons: Al-Tai
- 24 seasons: Al-Raed, Al-Riyadh
- 17 seasons: Al-Taawoun
- 16 seasons: Al-Nahda
- 15 seasons: Al-Fateh
- 13 seasons: Al-Faisaly
- 11 seasons: Al-Najma, Ohod
- 10 seasons: Al-Hazem
- 9 seasons: Al-Ansar, Najran
- 8 seasons: Al-Khaleej
- 7 seasons: Abha, Al-Shoulla
- 6 seasons: Damac, Al-Fayha, Hajer, Al-Batin
- 4 seasons: Al-Rawdhah
- 3 seasons: Al-Kawkab, Al-Jabalain
- 2 seasons: Al-Adalah, Sdoos, Al-Watani, Al-Orobah
- 1 season: Al-Okhdood, Al-Arabi, Al-Ain, Okaz
Top scorers edit
All-time top scorers edit
Boldface indicates a player still active in the Pro League.
|2||Nasser Al-Shamrani||167||301||0.55||2003||2019||Al-Wehda, Al-Shabab, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad|
|3||Omar Al Somah||144||180||0.80||2014||2022||Al-Ahli|
|5||Abderrazak Hamdallah||116||124||0.94||2018||2023||Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad|
|6||Yasser Al-Qahtani||112||206||0.54||2000||2018||Al-Qadsiah, Al-Hilal|
|7||Mohammad Al-Sahlawi||111||257||0.43||2005||2022||Al-Qadsiah, Al-Nassr, Al-Shabab, Al-Taawoun|
|9||Hamzah Idris||96||–||–||1992||2007||Ohod, Al-Ittihad|
|10||Obeid Al-Dosari||91||–||–||1996||2005||Al-Wehda, Al-Ahli|
Top scorers by season edit
|1975–76||Mohammad S. Abdeli||Al-Nassr||13|
|1983–84||Hussam Abu Dawood||Al-Ahli||14|
|2000–01||Paulo da Silva||Al-Ettifaq||13|
|2014–15||Omar Al Somah||Al-Ahli||22|
|2015–16||Omar Al Somah||Al-Ahli||27|
|2016–17||Omar Al Somah||Al-Ahli||24|
- As of 2 September 2023
|Middle East and North Africa||Shahid
|India||Sony Sports Network|||
|South East Asia|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||StarTimes Sports|||
|Turkey||S Sport, 8.5 TV|||
|United States||Fox Sports|||
- Arabic: دوري المحترفين السعودي; The logo also used "MBS" as an abbreviation for the MBS Pro League (Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Professional League) until the 2021-22 season.
- Arabic: دوري روشن السعودي; Dawri Rushan as-Suʿūdī
See also edit
- "Live Scores – Clubs: Al Hilalclub_hint=Al Nassr". FIFA. Archived from the original on 1 August 2009.
- Amin Sawati. موسوعة تاريخ الحركة الرياضية في المملكة العربية السع ودية: بمناسبة مرور مائة عام على تأسيس المملكة العربية السعودية. مدينة الطيبات العالمية للعلوم والمعرفة،. ISBN 9789960351148.
- "Morocco's Abderrazak Hamdallah breaks scoring record in Saudi Arabia". BBC Sport. 19 April 2019. Archived from the original on 20 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
- "Saudi wealth shaping football's new reality". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
- "Neymar credits Ronaldo for Saudi Pro League transformation". Reuters. 16 August 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
- Michaelson, Ruth (26 July 2023). "Revealed: Saudi Arabia's $6bn spend on 'sportswashing'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
- Smith, Rory; Panja, Tariq; Al Omran, Ahmed (13 July 2023). "Inside the Saudi Gold Rush". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
- "Neymar, the latest star of the Saudi Pro League, the new order of soccer". MARCA. 15 August 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
- Walid, Ahmed (5 June 2023). "PIF to take control of Saudi Arabia's four biggest clubs as part of major shake-up in Pro League". The Athletic. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
- Panja, Tariq; Al Omran, Ahmed (2 June 2023). "Saudi Soccer League Creates Huge Fund to Sign Global Stars". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
- "الرياض نت : "عبداللطيف جميل" ترعى الدوري السعودي للمحترفين". 14 January 2014. Archived from the original on 14 January 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
- "إلغاء مسمى دوري جميل السعودي للمحترفين وكأس ولي العهد". بوابة الأهرام (in Arabic). Retrieved 5 July 2023.
- The untold story of the rise of the Saudi football league, retrieved 5 July 2023
- "Saudi Pro League renamed to Roshn Saudi League". SPL. 23 August 2022. Archived from the original on 20 September 2022. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
- "Prince Sultan Sport City Stadium (Mahalah)".
- "Prince Mohammed Bin Fahad Stadium".
- "Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi Sports City Stadium".
- "Alhazm Club Stadium".
- "افتتاح مدينة الأمير هذلول بن عبدالعزيز الرياضية في نجران". 31 August 2020.
- "Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Stadium".
- "استاد الأمير عبدالعزيز بن مساعد بن جلوي". kooora.com. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- "احصائيات هدافي الدوري تاريخيا والاكثر حصولا على لقب الهداف". Archived from the original on 5 January 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
- "ماجد عبد الله، السهلاوي والقحطاني وأبرز الهدافيين التاريخيين في الدوري السعودي". Archived from the original on 18 August 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
- "Saudi Pro League signs deals with broadcasters for rights to screen games in over 170 countries". Arab News. 9 August 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
- Nair, Rohith (9 August 2023). Ferris, Ken (ed.). "DAZN to stream Saudi Pro League matches in six countries including UK, Germany". Soccer. Reuters. Bengaluru. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
- "How to watch Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr in Australia: TV channel and live stream for Saudi Pro League". The Sporting News. 9 February 2023. Archived from the original on 24 February 2023. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
- "IMG Locks Multiple International Broadcast Deals For Saudi Pro League". deadline.com. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
- Nagy, Bálint (11 August 2023). "A Spíler TV-n lehet majd nézni Ronaldo és Benzema meccseit" [You can watch Ronaldo and Benzema on Spíler TV]. Telex.hu (in Hungarian). Retrieved 25 September 2023.
- "Sony Networks brings Saudi Pro League action to Indian subcontinent". The Financial Express. 8 February 2023. Archived from the original on 9 February 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
- "Saudi Pro League lands rights deals in Portugal and Italy". SportBusiness. 20 January 2023. Archived from the original on 21 January 2023. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
- webmaster (10 August 2023). "Saudi Pro League secures major international broadcast deals in 130+ territories, taking Roshn Saudi League to football fans around the world". Innovators in Sport. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
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- "Ronaldo and Benzema playing for Saudi Arabia in Asia's top 5 leagues, Korea-Japan-Southeast Asia". SPOTV. 28 July 2023. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
- "MATCHDAY LIVE ⚽️ Saudi Pro League Al-Nassr 🆚 Al-Ettifaq 📆 Sun, 22nd Jan ⏱ 8:30PM >> Stream live on StarTimes ON App". www.facebook.com. Archived from the original on 22 January 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
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