Al Ahli relegation is 'like the Premier League without Manchester United' say shocked fans

Supporters of Saudi club express disbelief after one of the kingdom's oldest football teams is relegated for the first time

A player of Al Ahli in action. Photo: @ALAHLI_FC / Twitter
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

One of Saudi Arabia's oldest football teams has been relegated from the country's top flight for the first time in their history.

Distraught fans of Al Ahli FC compared their club's relegation from the Saudi Pro League with English giants Manchester United dropping out of the Premier League.

Supporters took to social media to express sorrow and disbelief at the setback on Monday, posting videos and messages on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

"I was heartbroken," said Ahmed Mustafa, an Al Ahli fan in Jeddah. "Everything I know about football has been about Al Ahli. It's what my father, grandfather and uncles supported growing up in Jeddah.

"Al Ahli is [to the Saudi Pro League] what Manchester United means to the Premier League. It's really the saddest moment in the club's history."

Founded in 1937, the Jeddah club is one of the oldest teams in the history of the Saudi professional league.

Al Ahli is one of the four founding members of the Saudi Pro League and had never been relegated until this year.

It is considered one of the kingdom's "big four" clubs alongside Al Ittihad, Al Hilal and Al Nasser.

The club has won the title three times in their history, in 1978, 1984 and most recently in 2016. Their trophy cabinet includes 13 King's Cups, six Crown Prince Cups, one General League Shield and one Super Cup title.

But after a 0-0 draw with Al Shabab in the final match of the season at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on Monday, the club will compete in the second tier of Saudi football next season.

Supporter Faris Awad wrote on Twitter: "Here is an event that cannot be bypassed, cannot be comprehended or believable, the place and the great entity, the castle of lovers and championships, the main pillar of Saudi football is relegated to the first degree in one of the saddest moments of the competition, here is Al Ahli where everything can make you cry."

"Al Ahli is so iconic and represents Jeddah, it's our home team more than anything. I am so sad that we didn't make it, it's never happened," said Hashem Ayoub, an Al Ahli supporter living in Jeddah, about the club avoiding the drop.

"It's a devastating loss for all Al Ahli fans. Even my sisters were crying after the results."

"I attended the game and it was the hardest thing to watch," said Mahmoud Khatib, another Al Ahli fan.

"Fans were really angry and we saw huge arguments break out between fans in the parking lot, but the security helped prevent any fights from happening. It got really tense because the fans were so disappointed and we wanted our icons to win."

Updated: June 29, 2022, 3:44 PM