What gives, the first investment of Saudi Arabia in French football?

What gives, the first investment of Saudi Arabia in French football?

Not at best in National, the Châteauroux club receives this Friday Paris Saint-Germain during the 32nd finals of the Coupe de France. The opportunity to highlight the first major investment of a Saudi owner in French football.

Sometimes announced (or fantasized) on the side of OM in recent years, Saudi Arabia has still not landed on the Canebière. Instead, the Gulf country signed its first investment in France in March 2021 near Châteauroux.

But unlike Qatar in Paris, opponent of the Berrichonne this Friday in the Coupe de France, or the United Arab Emirates in Troyes (via the City Football Group), the current 14th of National (D3) wants to change dimension thanks to an investor private and not via a sovereign wealth fund.

>> All about the 32nd finals of the Coupe de France

The will of a private investor

Having become the owner of the Châteauroux club thanks to his company United World based in Geneva, Switzerland, Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad does not want to do anything with his finances. Unlike the PIF, able to afford Newcastle and invest nearly 235 million there for transfers in the space of a year, the boss of Berrichonne seeks to build a sustainable project in football.

At the time of the takeover of the team, the new owner did not hide his desire to put training back at the center of the project in order to “raise the level of the club, the facilities and the level of the team” and to do so ” in the time”.

Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, owner of Chateauroux
Saudi Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, owner of Châteauroux © Icon Sport

This grandson of the founder of Saudi Arabia has got his hands on several teams across Europe and the world. Most of the time, his purchases have been nice shots with promising teams or going through a bad patch.

It is in this context that he got his hands on Sheffield United in England in 2011 or Beerschot in Belgium, Al-Hilal in Dubai and FC Kerala in India. Each time, the businessman took control of clubs at the lower level with the desire to bring them up to the elite or to the top of their championship.

The sportsman a bit struggling

Bought in Ligue 2, where he occupied the last place in the standings at the time of the arrival of Abdullah bin Mosaad, Châteauroux did not succeed in his rescue operation in 2021-2022. Unfortunately for the Berry club, despite a good start to the National campaign, it lost ground in its attempt to regain L2. Only 14th after 16 games, the Berrichonne will have to whip to stay in the French third division.

“Even if we had started the championship very well, we then had a very bad series which led us to a bad ranking which is not our objective, admitted Michel Denisot, non-executive president of the club, to of RMC Sport before the reception of PSG. I think that we have a good squad of National, that’s for sure, but from there to be able to compete with Paris Saint-Germain… it’s not possible.”

Châteauroux, the fantasy of French training

With a personal fortune around 200 million euros, Abdullah bin Mosaad does not have the finances of other owners from the Gulf. But the one who could quickly find the Premier League with Sheffield United (currently second in the Championship) has chosen to bet on his training center in Châteauroux. A solution which allows him not to spend crazy sums and which highlights the quality of local training.

Before serving as an Olympic village for the shooting events of the Paris 2024 Olympics, nearly 120 residents will soon be accommodated in brand new infrastructure at the United World Academy in Indre. This private and legally independent structure of La Berrichonne belongs to the same owner as the National club. But the center is not just for young blues and reds.

“This academy project is based on three main axes, explains Patrick Trotignon, the general manager of the club and responsible for the academy with the newspaper L’Equipe. There is the residential academy with young people accommodated in Châteauroux , after-school in partnership with private schools and internships during school holidays.”

The former leader of Servette FC and Évian Thonon-Gaillard clarified about the bridges and the many partnerships envisaged that the desire remained in the long term to help the best young people to join one of the three United World clubs in Europe. : “The idea is to tell them, come and train in France, you will save time in terms of adaptation, discipline, food and climate.”