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Ukraine football club Shakhtar Donetsk looks to Saudi for financial help  

December 10, 2023 at 1:15 pm

Players of FC Shakhtar Donetsk line up before the start of the 2023/2024 Ukrainian Premier League 16th Round game against FC Metalist 1925 Kharkiv at the Arena Lviv on 3 December 2023 [Anastasiia Smolienko/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images]

Ukrainian football club Shakhtar Donetsk is hoping to receive a financial boost from Saudi Arabia, according to a report today by Bloomberg.

The top flight team, “a Champions League regular,” from the eastern Donbas region has not played a domestic game for almost a decade.

CEO Serhii Palkin has reportedly reached out to Geneva-based sports advisory firm LLT Sports, which has a base in Jeddah to hold talks on potential deals with clubs in the Saudi Pro League, including FC Al Tawwoun.

It is hoped that the Ukrainian team can sign lucrative player transfers and take participate in exhibition matches in the Kingdom next season. Shakhtar is scheduled to play a series of charity matches in Japan later in the week, including J League Cup winners Avispa Fukuoka, with proceeds going to the war-torn country.

“We’re going to this market as we recognized Saudi Arabia has a lot of money and will host the World Cup soon,” Palkin said in a recent interview from his base in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. “I believe we need to be involved in the whole process.”

Palkin, who has been with the club for almost two decades didn’t mention any other Saudi clubs, but added he’s also looking to build player academy links, the outlet said.

The club is in fourth place in Ukraine’s top league, “uncharacteristically out of the top three”, although they have recent success in the Champions League, beating Spanish giants Barcelona 1-0.

Saudi Arabia, which has recently dismissed accusations of sportswashing as “very shallow” has invested heavily in the sport, with significant stakes in clubs in Europe, while also luring some of the biggest names to the Pro League.

READ: Saudi Arabia to bid to host FIFA World Cup 2034