Saudi league hires former Man City CEO after Ronaldo arrival
Al Nassr fans sit under a giant billboard of Cristiano Ronaldo during the Saudi Pro League match between Al Nassr and Al Ettifaq at Mrsool Park Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, January 23, 2023 1:55PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 23, 2023 1:55PM EST
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Saudi Arabian soccer league hired the former chief executive of Manchester City on Monday to work on cashing in commercial opportunities created by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo in the country.
The Saudi league said Garry Cook, a long-time Nike executive before joining Man City in 2008, would take over as president and CEO.
“Following the arrival of global superstar Ronaldo, the eyes of the world are on Saudi football,” league chairman Abdulaziz Alafaleq said in a statement, highlighting a goal to “drive commercial and broadcast opportunities which strengthen the financial position of the league and the clubs.”
Ronaldo signed with Al Nassr through June 2025 in a deal reportedly making him the highest paid player in soccer history.
The 37-year-old Portugal forward, whose contract with Manchester United was terminated during the World Cup, made his league debut Sunday in a 1-0 win over Ettifaq.
“I have been warmly welcomed in Riyadh and look forward to immediately starting work to realize our ambition to make Saudi football a powerhouse of the global game,” Cook said in the statement from the league.
Cook joined Man City months before the club was bought by new owners from Abu Dhabi. He stayed three years and helped lay the foundations of the club’s first English league title in 44 years. He left early in the 2011-12 season amid a dispute over an email that was sent to a player’s mother.