Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has called for the Premier League to implement a ban on transfers to Saudi Arabia in order to safeguard the integrity of the sport. Neville’s plea comes in response to a recent surge of transfer activity involving high-profile players, such as Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante, moving to the Saudi Pro League. The acquisition of four clubs in Saudi Arabia by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which also owns Newcastle United, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr, has raised concerns and sparked controversy.
Additionally, speculation has linked Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, and Hakim Ziyech with potential moves to Saudi Arabian teams. The ambiguity surrounding PIF’s stake in Chelsea’s ultimate owners, Clearlake Capital, has intensified the debate. While sources close to the club have denied any such involvement, Neville believes that decisive action must be taken.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Neville stated, “The Premier League should immediately impose an embargo on transfers to Saudi Arabia to ensure the integrity of the game is not compromised. There should be thorough scrutiny of the appropriateness of these transactions. If they pass the necessary checks, then transfers can resume. However, at this moment, I firmly believe that transfers should be suspended until a proper investigation is conducted into the ownership structure at Chelsea and whether any dubious transfer dealings have taken place.”
This week, Neville took to Instagram to express his concerns about the transfer dealings between the Premier League and Saudi Arabia, urging swift action. He posted, “Any chance the Premier League can look into this Saudi trading like NOW!!!! Get a regulator in ASAP that’s agile enough to stop these things at the source! If it doesn’t look right, it’s probably not right! Independence is required ASAP. The governance of our game is a mess.”
Currently, the Premier League employs a fair value assessment system to ensure that both commercial deals and transfers are conducted at market value. However, Neville’s remarks highlight the need for a more thorough investigation and regulatory measures to maintain the integrity and transparency of football transactions.
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