The Saudi Pro League takes centre stage in our extensive coverage of Asian football.
It burst onto the global football scene with a bang, grabbing headlines in the 2023 summer transfer window, thanks in no small part to Cristiano Ronaldo’s high-profile move in 2022.
The Saudi Pro League is the highest form of professional football in Saudi Arabia. It is now one the most progressive and in-demand spectacles in the world of football.
Established in 1976, this league consistently ranks among the top in Asia, owing to the success of its teams in the AFC Champions League.
The Saudi nation’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) took 75% stakes in four of the founding members who have been the driver of the recent flurry of player acquisitions. The four teams in question are:
Al-Ittihad are reigning Saudi Pro League champions. The won their first title after a 14 year absence, but it was the ninth in their history.
The Contenders for 23/24
The four PIF backed clubs will be favourites to contest the title.
With Sadio Mane and Cristiano Ronaldo in attack, Al-Nassr should be very strong favourites.
While the signing of Neymar Jr for 18-time champions Al Hilal immediately pushes them into contention.
Don’t discount Al Ettifaq either. Even though they are not primarily backed by PIF they have conducted shrewd investment. Jordan Henderson and Moussa Dembele joined manager, Steven Gerrard to the Middle East in the summer.
Sadio Mane Scores again for Al Nassr with Cristiano Ronaldo assist 🔥 pic.twitter.com/x1kw9Vgnl4
— Saudi Pro League (@SaudiProLeageue) August 29, 2023
2023/24 Schedule and Teams
The season schedule runs from 12th August 2023 to May 2024.
The top two teams will qualify for the AFC Champions League. Al Hilal and Al-Ittihad are this season’s AFC Champions League representatives from Saudi Arabia.
Here are the 2023/24 Saudi Pro League teams, their location and stadium:
Abha (Abha, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium – 20,000)
Al-Ahli (Jeddah, King Abdullah Sports City – 62,345)
Al-Ettifaq (Dammam, Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium – 35,000)
Al-Fateh (Al-Hasa, Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi Stadium – 26,000)
Al-Fayha (Al Majma’ah, Al Majma’ah Sports City – 7,000)
Al-Hazem (Ar Ras, Al-Hazem Club Stadium – 8,000)
Al-Hilal (Riyadh, King Fahd International Stadium – 68,752)
Al-Ittihad (Jeddah, King Abdullah Sports City – 62,345)
Al-Khaleej (Saihat, Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium – 35,000)
Al-Nassr (Riyadh, Al-Awwal Park – 25,000)
Al-Okhdood (Najran, Prince Hathloul Stadium – 12,000)
Al-Raed (Buraidah, King Abdullah Sport City Stadium – 25,000)
Al-Riyadh (Riyadh, Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz Stadium – 15,000)
Al-Shabab (Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium – 22,500)
Al-Taawoun (Buraidah, King Abdullah Sport City Stadium – 25,000)
Al-Tai (Ha’il, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Musa’ed Stadium – 12,000)
Al-Wehda (Mecca, King Abdul Aziz Stadium – 38,000)
Damac (Khamis Mushait, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium – 20,000)
Current Results and Standings
There have been five games already this season. Al Hilal have made the best start and sit top of the table with four wins from five.
Rather surprisingly, Al Taawon sit second matching the same amount of points as Al-Hilal and the only other side to be unbeatan so far.
After loosing the first two games of the season, Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr sit in sixth having won their last three in a row.
In the latest round (5) of Saudi Pro League fixtures, the most surprising result was seen at Al-Fateh. They thrashed Al-Ahli 5-1, scoring three goals after the 89th minute.
The best game of round 5 was seen between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal. Alexander Mitrovic scored his first hat-trick for Al-Hilal as they came from 3-1 down to win 4-3.
The Playbook is powered by Genius Sports and will feature regular updates of the Saudi Pro League throughout the season.