We’ve heard from the Boehly-Wyss bid and their general intentions through their profile/PR-pitch in the Telegraph. Now it’s the Saudi Media’s turn, and they’ve chosen Goal as their preferred outlet, Nizaar Kinsella getting to claim the exclusive.
As their name might imply, Saudi Media (SMC) are from Saudi Arabia and are in media, the biggest media company in the region in fact with an annual $1b turnover! Contrary to what their name might imply, they claim to be very much private and independent from the Saudi state (unlike Newcastle United’s current ownership group).
It’s a bold claim given the conditions and circumstances of media operations in the country, or such things as SMC’s Mohamed Alkhereiji, who’s spearheading this bid and is the CEO of SMC’s parent company, Engineer Holding Group (EHG), also serving as the chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Center Group, whose major shareholder is Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, the son of the former Saudi King, King Fahd (EDIT: or at least used to be; point being that it’s all soft power in the end for the state itself). And even if these claims of independence are true (assuming they’re relevant or needed in the first place), Chelsea are said to have discouraged “politically sensitive” bids, though SMC evidently don’t believe that applies to them. It’s not going to be an easy sell either way. (Or maybe it is; who knows what political whims and winds are going to blow in whichever direction.)
In any case, assuming they can manage the optics and the requisite political connections, SMC are promising an “ambitious” stadium rebuild, continued investment in youth and women’s football, and new contracts for those who need new contracts, and are offering a huge untapped market in the region just waiting to become Chelsea fans and, more importantly, Chelsea sponsors. All very good things.
Alkhereiji certainly appears to be a football fan and counts Chelsea as his Premier League team, in addition to being a big fan of his local Al Nassr. In fact, SMC paid for and operate Al Nassr’s stadium, and are also involved with Al Hilal, whom we played just a few weeks ago in the Club World Cup.
So, #TeamTodd or #TeamSaudiMedia? Or #Team ... third option? Fourth? These two seem the most serious so far.