Saudi Pro League 2023/24: How it works, teams involved and prize … – 90min UK

Stars like Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante are among those joining Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia; Al Ittihad won the title last season but new arrivals will change the landscape in the 2023/24 Saudi Pro League.
The 2023/24 Saudi Pro League has become a distinct source of intrigue in Europe with the Middle East emerging as an attractive destination for the continent's ageing superstars.
Cristiano Ronaldo sensationally quick Manchester United and hopped on a plane to join Al Nassr, while Karim Benzema has also left Europe in favour of reigning Saudi champions Al Ittihad.
As a result of the talent that'll be competing in the division next season, the 2023/24 Saudi Pro League will undoubtedly be the most eagerly-anticipated in the competition's history.
Can Ronaldo guide Al Nassr to glory, or will Al Ittihad, bolstered by the arrivals of Benzema and N'Golo Kante, win their second title on the bounce?
Here's everything you need to know about the 2023/24 Saudi Pro League.
The Saudi Pro League will include 18 teams from the 2023/24 season and beyond, up from 16. Just two sides were relegated from the top flight last season with four from the First Division earning promotion.
In terms of the competition's format, the Pro League follows a double round-robin system with every team facing each other home and away. With 18 teams now in the league, every club will play 34 games in the 2023/24 campaign.
Once the season is complete, the top two teams will qualify for the group stages of the AFC Champions League, while third place will progress into the play-off round of the competition. The bottom three will be relegated to the second tier.
Every club competing in the 2023/24 Saudi Pro League can register a maximum of eight foreign players throughout the season.
Al Ahli
Al Ettifaq
Al Fateh
Al Fayha
Al Hazem
Al Hilal
Al Ittihad
Al Khaleej
Al Nassr
Al Okhdood
Al Raed
Al Riyadh
Al Shabab
Al Taawoun
Al Tai
Al Wehda
Al Ahli suffered a shock relegation two seasons ago but they are back in the big time for 2023/24 after winning the First Division last season.
While Al Ahli are set to compete in the Saudi Pro League for the 47th time, Al Okhdood will make their debut in the competition next season after finishing second in the second tier last time out.
Al Riyadh are also back in the top flight following a lengthy absence, while Al Hazem were the main beneficiaries of the structure change as they became the fourth team to earn promotion into the 2023/24 Pro League.
The eagerly anticipated 2023/24 Saudi Pro League season kicks off on 11 August 2023.
Fixtures for the upcoming season, however, have not been revealed and are expected to be released much closer to the start of the campaign – perhaps at the end of July.
The extension of the league from 16 to 18 teams has added more fixtures to the calendar, with the 2023/24 season starting two weeks earlier compared to 2022/23.
2023/24 will conclude in May, but an exact date for the final matchday of the season hasn't been announced. This will be revealed once the fixtures for the second half of the campaign are released.
Given the increased governmental interest in the Pro League and PIF's investment into the country's 'Big Four' clubs, prize money for the 2023/24 season is set to increase once more. However, exact figures have not been disclosed.
In 2022/23, Al Ittihad received SR5 million (£1.04m) for winning the top flight.
Moreover, lucrative prize money is also handed out to the winners of Saudi Arabia's primary domestic club competition, the King Cup. Figures from 2016 suggest the victors are awarded SR5.5 million (£1.2m), while the runners-up receive SR4 million (£800,000).
Al Ittihad secured their ninth Saudi Pro League title in 2022/23 under the guidance of Nuno Espirito Santo, but they have not won the competition the most.
That crown goes to Al Hilal, who are determined to return to the summit of Saudi football in 2023/24 and have just confirmed the signing of Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves. Al Hilal have 18 league titles to their name and had won five of the previous six titles before Al Ittihad's victory in 2023.
Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr have also won the competition nine times, while Al Shabab (six), Al Ahli (four), and Al Ettifaq (two) all have multiple league titles to their name. Al Fateh lifted the title in 2012/13, their sole triumph.
Titles won
Al Hilal
Al Ittihad
Al Nassr
Al Shabab
Al Ahli
Al Ettifaq
Al Fateh
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