JEDDAH: The Saudi Pro League officially launched its 2023-24 season during a star-studded event at Al-Jawhara Hall in Jeddah on Sunday night.
This season, for the first time ever, 18 professional teams will battle it out for the championship, two more than the 16 that have competed for the league since the 2018-19 season.
There is an especially high level of excitement and expectation for the upcoming campaign, following the signing of a number of major international stars by several teams during the summer transfer season. They follow in the footsteps of Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for Al-Nassr in December last year. There are now players from more than 40 countries playing in the Saudi top flight.
The launch ceremony highlighted some of the most important preparations league officials have been making for the new season, including a number of initiatives and plans designed to ensure it is one to remember.
The audience at the event included the president and other officials of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, along with senior officials from the 18 teams and several of their high-profile recent signings.
The night begin with with the entry of the Roshn Professional League trophy, which was carried in by Romarinho, the captain of reigning champions Al-Ittihad. Later, four members of each team were introduced on stage.
The recent arrival of big-name international signings is expected to build on a record-breaking 2022-23 season, during which crowds were bigger, Saudi football attracted more followers worldwide, and global viewing figures were higher than ever, with games being broadcast on 48 platforms and TV stations in more than 170 countries.
The season will kick off on Friday, Aug. 11 at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah when newly promoted Al-Ahli, last season’s First Division champions, will renew their rivalry with fellow league newcomers Al-Hazem, who they pipped to the title by four points last season.