Masters ‘not too concerned’ by Saudi influence

Masters 'not too concerned' by Saudi influence

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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says he “wouldn’t be too concerned at the moment” about Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in football.

Cristiano Ronaldo moved to the Saudi Pro League in January and a number of high-profile players have followed him this summer.

Al-Hilal have also made a world record £259m bid for Paris St-Germain and France forward Kylian Mbappe.

“Something new is obviously happening,” Masters told BBC Sport’s Alex Howell.

“The Saudi Pro League have stated they want to be a top 10 league by 2030.

“They are investing in players and managers to try to raise the profile of the league and clubs.

“It has taken us 30 years to get to the position that we have in terms of profile, competitiveness and the revenue streams that we have.

“I wouldn’t be too concerned at the moment but, obviously, Saudi Arabian clubs have as much right to purchase players as any other league does.

“In the end, the Premier League is a £6bn-a-year operation in terms of revenue and that money is spent reinvested into the pitch.

“All good competitions have to have revenue streams to back them up.”

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema left Real Madrid to join Al-Ittihad, who have also signed ex-Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and Portuguese forward Jota from Celtic.

They have also made a bid of £40m for Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho.

Brazil forward Roberto Firmino, whose contract with Liverpool expired in the summer, has joined Al-Ahli, and they have also signed Senegal keeper Edouard Mendy from Chelsea and agreed a £30m deal for Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez.

Former Rangers and Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has taken over as manager of Al-Ettifaq, who have agreed a deal to sign Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson for £12m plus add-ons.

‘Summer Series shows Premier League growth’

Aston Villa, Brentford, Brighton, Chelsea, Fulham and Newcastle are in the United States to play in a Premier League Summer Series during pre-season.

Masters highlighted the crowds at the games so far as evidence of the English top-flight’s continuing growth.

“The Premier League has spent 30 years building its market position. We have a fantastic competition and it speaks for itself,” he said.

“It feels like we are making an impact not just on domestically but on an international scale as well.”

Premier League rules ‘robust’

Newcastle are set to sell Allan Saint-Maximin to Al-Ahli, who are run by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) which also owns the Tyneside club.

Reports have claimedexternal-link that rival Premier League clubs are concerned that the French winger’s transfer fee could be inflated, which would help Newcastle comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe says Saint-Maximin’s expected transfer “will satisfy the Premier League”.

Masters believes the Premier League’s “associated party transaction rules, which are 18 months old now” should help avoid such a scenario, with fair market value being decided by “comparable evidence” and “independent assessments”.

“That transaction hasn’t taken place yet but anything which is inter-company has to be a fair market value and the rules cater for that,” said Masters.

“I think our rules are robust. They are relatively new but they should be able to cope with that particular transaction.”

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