Saudi Pro League attendances are as low as 133 people – World Soccer Talk

There has been plenty of talk about the rise of professional soccer inside Saudi Arabia. Although previously relatively unknown, the Saudi Pro League essentially exploded onto the scene when Cristiano Ronaldo decided to join Al Nassr in January. The move may have shocked many around the globe, but money certainly talked.
Ronaldo is currently earning over $200 million per season to play for Al Nassr. The Saudi league, however, did not just stop at the Portuguese superstar. Teams inside the Middle Eastern nation combined to spend nearly $1 billion in transfer fees during the summer transfer market.
One of these transfers was former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. The midfielder moved to Al-Ettifaq in a deal worth around $15 million. Along with the move, Henderson also reportedly received a massive pay raise as well. Despite the bump in salary, the former Red claimed that the switch was not motivated by money.
Despite the significant spending by the Saudis to bring in top players, fans are not exactly flocking to the stadiums. In fact, a recent matchup between Al-Riyadh and Al Okhdood was reportedly played in front of just 133 fans. The two teams were not part of the massive summer spending inside the Saudi Pro League.
Nevertheless, the aforementioned game was not an outlier for the league. Henderson’s Al-Ettifaq supposedly faced off against Abha with just 976 fans in the stands. The midfielder previously played in front of over 50,000 screaming fans at Anfield. Reported average attendance figures for the Saudi Pro League are currently around 8,000 per match. Nevertheless, this is heavily weighted on top matchups.
For instance, Ronaldo’s Al Nassr currently averages around 21,500 fans each match. Fellow big spenders Al-Ittihad also records around 29,000 supporters in the seats for home games. However, lower-level teams average significantly fewer fans. Abha and Al-Shabab are averaging less than 2,000 fans each match during the current campaign. Both of the club’s stadiums have a stadium capacity of around 20,000 seats.
Although spending is up in the Saudi Pro League, fan engagement looks to need more time for growth. Saudi officials, however, will attempt to speed up this process by potentially hosting the 2034 World Cup. Soccer officials in the nation recently announced their intentions to hold the tournament after backing out of the 2030 competition.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sebastian Frej.
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