The Saudi Pro League (SPL),[a] known as the Roshn Saudi League (RSL)[b] for sponsorship reasons, is the highest division of association football in the Saudi league system.

Saudi Pro League
Organising bodySaudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF)
Founded1976; 48 years ago (1976)
CountrySaudi Arabia
Number of teams18
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toSaudi First Division League
Domestic cup(s)King Cup
Super Cup
International cup(s)AFC Champions League
Arab Club Champions Cup
Current championsAl-Ittihad (9th title)
Most championshipsAl-Hilal (18 titles)
Most appearancesMohamed Al-Deayea (406)
Top goalscorerMajed Abdullah (189 goals)
TV partnersShahid and SSC (MENA)
Current: 2023–24 Saudi Pro League

The first season of competition was the 1976–77 season.[1] 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 started experiencing widespread international 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.

History edit

Up until the late 1950s, football in Saudi Arabia was organized on a regional basis, with the King's Cup being the only nationwide tournament. 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.[2]

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.[citation needed]

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.[3]

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.[citation needed]

2023 Saudi "Revolution" 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.[4] Upon his move to Al-Hilal, Neymar also credited Ronaldo for the immediate transformation of the league.[5] Other players who joined the league include Ballon d'Or-holder Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kanté, Roberto Firmino, Sergej Milinković-Savić, Sadio Mané, Riyad Mahrez and Jordan Henderson.[6][7] According to Spanish publication Marca the league has "shaken up the European transfer market".[8] 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.[9] These actions have been critcised by many sporting journalists and who have described the transfers as part of a sportswashing scheme by the Saudi government.[6][10]

Sponsorship edit

Starting in the 2009–10 season until the 2012-13 season, the league was sponsored by Zain Group.and was known as "Zain league"[11] From the 2013–14 season until the 2017–18 season, Abdul Latif Jameel was the sponsor and the league was known as "Jameel league", from the 2018–19 season until the 2021-22 season major restructuring of Saudi football, under which the league's name reverted to the "Saudi Pro League".[12][11][13] From the 2022-23 season, for a five-year period, the sponsor of the league is Roshn and the league is known as "Roshn Saudi league", Roshn is a real estate division of the Public Investment Fund.[14]

Competition format edit

Competition 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Current teams edit

For details on the 2023–24 Saudi Pro League season, see here.

Note: Table lists in alphabetical order.
Team Location Stadium Capacity
Abha Abha Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium 20,000[15]
Al-Ahli Jeddah King Abdullah Sports City 62,345
Al-Ettifaq Dammam Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium 35,000[16]
Al-Fateh Al-Hasa (Hofuf) Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi Stadium 26,000[17]
Al-Fayha Al Majma'ah Al Majma'ah Sports City 7,000
Al-Hazem Ar Rass Al-Hazem Club Stadium 8,000[18]
Al-Hilal Riyadh Kingdom Arena 26,000
Al-Ittihad Jeddah King Abdullah Sports City 62,345
Al-Khaleej Saihat Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium (Dammam) 35,000
Al-Nassr Riyadh Al-Awwal Park 25,000
Al-Okhdood Najran Prince Hathloul Stadium 12,000[19]
Al-Raed Buraidah King Abdullah Sport City Stadium 25,000
Al-Riyadh Riyadh Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Stadium 15,000[20]
Al-Shabab Riyadh Al-Shabab Club Stadium 15,000
Al-Taawoun Buraidah King Abdullah Sport City Stadium 25,000
Al-Tai Ha'il Prince Abdul Aziz bin Musa'ed Stadium 12,000[21]
Al-Wehda Mecca King Abdul Aziz Stadium 38,000
Damac Khamis Mushait Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium (Abha) 20,000

Champions edit

List of champions edit

No Season Champion Runners Up
1 1974-75 Al-Nassr Al-Hilal
2 1977–78 Al-Ahli Al-Nassr
3 1978–79 Al-Hilal Al-Nassr
4 1979–80 Al-Nassr Al-Hilal
5 1980–81 Al-Nassr Al-Hilal
6 1981–82 Al-Ittihad Al-Shabab
7 1982–83 Al-Ettifaq Al-Hilal
8 1983–84 Al-Ahli Al-Ittihad
9 1984–85 Al-Hilal Al-Shabab
10 1985–86 Al-Hilal Al-Ittihad
11 1986–87 Al-Ettifaq Al-Ahli
12 1987–88 Al-Hilal Al-Ettifaq
13 1988–89 Al-Nassr Al-Shabab
14 1989–90 Al-Hilal Al-Ahli
15 1990–91 Al-Shabab Al-Nassr
16 1991–92 Al-Shabab Al-Ettifaq
17 1992–93 Al-Shabab Al-Hilal
18 1993–94 Al-Nassr Al-Riyadh
19 1994–95 Al-Nassr Al-Hilal
20 1995–96 Al-Hilal Al-Ahli
21 1996–97 Al-Ittihad Al-Hilal
22 1997–98 Al-Hilal Al-Shabab
23 1998–99 Al-Ittihad Al-Ahli
24 1999–00 Al-Ittihad Al-Ahli
25 2000–01 Al-Ittihad Al-Nassr
26 2001–02 Al-Hilal Al-Ittihad
27 2002–03 Al-Ittihad Al-Ahli
28 2003–04 Al-Shabab Al-Ittihad
29 2004–05 Al-Hilal Al-Shabab
30 2005–06 Al-Shabab Al-Hilal
31 2006–07 Al-Ittihad Al-Hilal
32 2007–08 Al-Hilal Al-Ittihad
33 2008–09 Al-Ittihad Al-Hilal
34 2009–10 Al-Hilal Al-Ittihad
35 2010–11 Al-Hilal Al-Ittihad
36 2011–12 Al-Shabab Al-Ahli
37 2012–13 Al-Fateh Al-Hilal
38 2013–14 Al-Nassr Al-Hilal
39 2014–15 Al-Nassr Al-Ahli
40 2015–16 Al-Ahli Al-Hilal
41 2016–17 Al-Hilal Al-Ahli
42 2017–18 Al-Hilal Al-Ahli
43 2018–19 Al-Nassr Al-Hilal
44 2019–20 Al-Hilal Al-Nassr
45 2020–21 Al-Hilal Al-Shabab
46 2021–22 Al-Hilal Al-Ittihad
47 2022–23 Al-Ittihad Al-Nassr

Performance by club edit

# Club Winners Runners-up
1 Al-Hilal
2 Al-Ittihad
3 Al-Nassr
4 Al-Shabab
5 Al-Ahli
6 Al-Ettifaq
7 Al-Fateh
8 Al-Riyadh

Total titles won by city edit

City Number of titles Clubs
Al-Hilal (18), Al-Nassr (9), Al-Shabab (6)
Al-Ittihad (9), Al-Ahli (3)
Al-Ettifaq (2)
Al-Fateh (1)

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.[citation needed]

Top scorers edit

All-time top scorers edit

As of matches played 30 March 2024[22][23]

Boldface indicates a player still active in the Pro League.

Rank Player Goals Apps Ratio First Last Club(s)
1   Majed Abdullah 189 194 0.97 1977 1997 Al-Nassr
2   Nasser Al-Shamrani 167 301 0.55 2003 2019 Al-Wehda, Al-Shabab, Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad
3   Bushra Wahba 144 180 0.80 1969 1999 Al-Hilal
4   Abderrazak Hamdallah 128 132 0.97 2018 2023 Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad
5   Fahd Al-Hamdan 120 252 0.48 1984 2000 Al-Riyadh
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
8   Sami Al-Jaber 101 268 0.38 1988 2007 Al-Hilal
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

Season Nat. Top scorer(s) Club(s) Goals
1975–76   Mohammad S. Abdeli Al-Nassr 13
1976–77   Nasser Eid Al-Qadsiah 7
1977–78   Motamad Khojali Al-Ahli 14
1978–79   Majed Abdullah Al-Nassr 18
1979–80   Majed Abdullah Al-Nassr 17
1980–81   Majed Abdullah Al-Nassr 21
1981–82   Khalid Al-Ma'ajil Al-Shabab 22
1982–83   Majed Abdullah Al-Nassr 14
1983–84   Hussam Abu Dawood Al-Ahli 14
1984–85   Hathal Dosari Al-Hilal 15
1985–86   Majed Abdullah Al-Nassr 15
1986–87   Mohammad Suwaidi Al-Ittihad 17
1987–88   Khalid Al-Ma'ajil Al-Shabab 12
1988–89   Majed Abdullah Al-Nassr 19
1989–90   Sami Al-Jaber Al-Hilal 16
1990–91   Fahad Al-Mehallel Al-Shabab 20
1991–92   Saeed Al-Owairan Al-Shabab 16
1992–93   Sami Al-Jaber Al-Hilal 18
1993–94   Moussa N'Daw Al-Hilal 15
1994–95   Fahd Al-Hamdan Al-Riyadh 15
1995–96   Ohene Kennedy Al-Nassr 14
1996–97   Ahmed Bahja Al-Ittihad 21
1997–98   Sulaiman Al-Hadaithy Al-Najma 15
1998–99   Obeid Al-Dosari Al-Wehda 20
1999–00   Hamzah Idris Al-Ittihad 33
2000–01   Paulo da Silva Al-Ettifaq 13
2001–02   Diene Faye Al-Riyadh 10
2002–03   Carlos Tenorio Al-Nassr 15
Godwin Attram
Kandia Traoré
2004–05   Mohammed Manga Al-Shabab 15
2005–06   Essa Al-Mehyani Al-Wehda 16
2006–07   Godwin Attram Al-Shabab 13
2007–08   Nasser Al-Shamrani Al-Shabab 18
Nasser Al-Shamrani
Hicham Aboucherouane
2009–10   Mohammad Al-Shalhoub Al-Hilal 12
2010–11   Nasser Al-Shamrani Al-Shabab 17
Nasser Al-Shamrani
Victor Simões
2012–13   Sebastián Tagliabué Al-Shabab 19
2013–14   Nasser Al-Shamrani Al-Hilal 21
2014–15   Omar Al Somah Al-Ahli 22
2015–16   Omar Al Somah Al-Ahli 27
2016–17   Omar Al Somah Al-Ahli 24
2017–18   Ronnie Fernández Al-Fayha 13
2018–19   Abderrazak Hamdallah Al-Nassr 34
2019–20   Abderrazak Hamdallah Al-Nassr 29
2020–21   Bafétimbi Gomis Al-Hilal 24
2021–22   Odion Ighalo Al-Hilal 24
2022–23   Abderrazak Hamdallah Al-Ittihad 21

Broadcasters edit

As of 26 December 2023
Country Broadcaster Ref.
  Middle East and North Africa Shahid
SSC channels
  Austria DAZN [25]
  United Kingdom
  Australia 10 Play [26]
Balkans Sport Klub [24]
  Brazil Grupo Band
Canal GOAT
Caribbean DSports
South America
  China Bilibili
Migu tv
  France Canal+ [27]
  Greece Cosmote Sport [24]
  Hungary Spíler TV [28]
  India Sony Sports Network [29]
  Italy La7
  Japan Abema
  Myanmar Sky Net [30]
  Portugal Sport TV [31]
  Romania Prima Sport [32]
  South Korea SPOTV [33]
  Hong Kong
South East Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa StarTimes Sports [34]
  Spain [35]
  Turkey S Sport [36]
  United States Fox Sports [37]
  Vietnam VieON [38]

Notes edit

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Arabic: دوري روشن السعودي; Dawri Rushan as-Suʿūdī

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Live Scores – Clubs: Al Hilalclub_hint=Al Nassr". FIFA. Archived from the original on 1 August 2009.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "Saudi wealth shaping football's new reality". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  5. ^ "Neymar credits Ronaldo for Saudi Pro League transformation". Reuters. 16 August 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  6. ^ a b Michaelson, Ruth (26 July 2023). "Revealed: Saudi Arabia's $6bn spend on 'sportswashing'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  7. ^ Smith, Rory; Panja, Tariq; Al Omran, Ahmed (13 July 2023). "Inside the Saudi Gold Rush". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Neymar, the latest star of the Saudi Pro League, the new order of soccer". MARCA. 15 August 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b "الرياض نت : "عبداللطيف جميل" ترعى الدوري السعودي للمحترفين". 14 January 2014. Archived from the original on 14 January 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  12. ^ "إلغاء مسمى دوري جميل السعودي للمحترفين وكأس ولي العهد". بوابة الأهرام (in Arabic). Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  13. ^ The untold story of the rise of the Saudi football league, retrieved 5 July 2023
  14. ^ "Saudi Pro League renamed to Roshn Saudi League". SPL. 23 August 2022. Archived from the original on 20 September 2022. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Prince Sultan Sport City Stadium (Mahalah)".
  16. ^ "Prince Mohammed Bin Fahad Stadium".
  17. ^ "Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi Sports City Stadium".
  18. ^ "Alhazm Club Stadium".
  19. ^ "افتتاح مدينة الأمير هذلول بن عبدالعزيز الرياضية في نجران". 31 August 2020.
  20. ^ "Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Stadium".
  21. ^ "استاد الأمير عبدالعزيز بن مساعد بن جلوي". Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  22. ^ "احصائيات هدافي الدوري تاريخيا والاكثر حصولا على لقب الهداف". Archived from the original on 5 January 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  23. ^ "ماجد عبد الله، السهلاوي والقحطاني وأبرز الهدافيين التاريخيين في الدوري السعودي". Archived from the original on 18 August 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  24. ^ a b c "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.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ "IMG Locks Multiple International Broadcast Deals For Saudi Pro League". Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  28. ^ 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]. (in Hungarian). Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  29. ^ "Sony Sports Network to Broadcast Saudi Pro League in India for Two Seasons". News18. 17 August 2023.
  30. ^ "Saudi Pro League secures major international broadcast deals in 130+ territories, taking Roshn Saudi League to football fans around the world". Innovators in Sport. 10 August 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ "Saudi football sells TV rights in hope of net profit". AGBI. 16 September 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  33. ^ "Ronaldo and Benzema playing for Saudi Arabia in Asia's top 5 leagues, Korea-Southeast Asia". SPOTV. 28 July 2023. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  34. ^ "MATCHDAY LIVE ⚽️ Saudi Pro League Al-Nassr 🆚 Al-Ettifaq 📆 Sun, 22nd Jan ⏱ 8:30PM >> Stream live on StarTimes ON App". Archived from the original on 22 January 2023. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  35. ^ "La Liga saudí, en exclusiva y gratis en podrás ver en directo a Cristiano, Benzema, Neymar..." MARCA (in Spanish). 10 August 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  36. ^ "Cristian Ronaldo ve Suudi Arabistan Ligi S Sport Plus'ta". (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 20 January 2023. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  37. ^ "FOX Sports secures US media rights to Saudi Pro League with league's acquisition of global stars". MARCA. 10 August 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2023.
  38. ^ "Đón xem Saudi Pro League 2023/24 trên VieON". (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 15 August 2023.

External links edit