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Brand management key for Saudi football

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Brand management is seen as key to the future of Saudi football with the qualification of the Green Falcons for the World Cup a big boost to domestic interest in the game.

Football clubs are currently government owned.   However, as part of the country's Vision 2030 plan which seeks to reduce dependence on oil, the clubs are to be put up for sale.   It is unclear who the bidders might be and whether there would be any restrictions on foreign ownership.   Some might see it as a way of winning friends and influencing people in the kingdom.

The primary revenue driver is seen as brand value and the models to be followed are big European clubs such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.  These clubs have a global presence and have built up their commercial operations over many years.  That of Manchester United is particularly sophsiticated in the way in which it targets very specific sponsorships in remote countries.

Saudi Arabia may need to bring in experienced brand managers to deal with the challenges it faces in giving its local clubs a higher profile.