Al Ahli football club to be weaned off state funds by 2013

CEO of loss-making Dubai football club says it doesn’t have a blank cheque
Al Ahli football club to be weaned off state funds by 2013
By Shane McGinley
Tue 02 Nov 2010 11:42 AM

Loss-making Al Ahli Football Club plans to be in profit within the next three years in anticipation of the withdrawal of financial support from the Dubai government, the CEO of the club said.

Ahmad Khalifa Hammad, who took charge of the Dubai club this year, said Al Ahli would be weaned off state support by 2013.

 “We hope that we will reach the stage where our club will be attractive for investors,” he told Arabian Business. But it is not easy and at the moment the club is not profitable, which is why we have a government fund. But this government fund, we know, sooner or later will be stopped.”

Al Ahli has made used of government funds to go on a player spending spree. Ahead of the start of this season, the club had snapped up a new captain in the form of Italian footballer and 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year, Fabio Cannavaro, while former Leeds United and Aston Villa manager David O'Leary, now manages the Dubai team.

The club has since been linked to a series of high profile buys, but these were denied by Hammad.

 “We have a limited budget. We don’t have an open budget,” he said.

Hammad is in the process of signing a number of commercial deals to line the club’s purse. On Monday, Al Ahli announced the launch of an online sports portal, in partnership with UAE state-backed telco du.

 In September, the team signed a major multi-million dirham sponsorship deal with Japanese IT giant Toshiba.

“This is our third year in professionalism and we are still looking for a new model in terms of business. We are concentrating a lot of the commercial side and building relations with international companies,” Hammad said.

 

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