Recently formed Pyramids FC has turned into a football powerhouse in Egypt that can compete with the country’s top clubs.
Formerly known as Al Assiouty Sport, the Egyptian club was sold to Saudi’s Sports Authority Chairman Turki Al-Sheikh in 2018. Pyramids FC is now based in Cairo and competes in the Egyptian Premier League.
Al Assiouty Sport came into existence in 2008 in the ancient town of Beni Seuf, 400 kilometres south of the capital Cairo. The club managed to gain promotion to the Egyptian Premier League in 2014 and remained there until the new owner came in.
The course of Al Assiouty Sport took a different turn in the summer of 2018 after the Chairman of Saudi Sports Authority Turki Al-Sheikh bought the club. He moved it to Cairo and changed the club’s name to Pyramids FC.
On June 28, 2018, former Al Ahly’s boss and now Egypt’s national team coach Hossam El-Badry was elected as the chairman of the club. Ahmed Hassan took over as the spokesperson and the team’s supervisor. Hady Khashaba took over as the football director while the current Botafago coach Alberto Valentim became the manager.
Additionally, Al-Sheikh added more firepower to the technical when he brought in former Mexican national team coach Ricardo La Color. In his stint at Mexico, he managed to take the country to the last 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
In the field, four players were brought in for a total of $ 20 million. The most notable one was former Palmeiras winger Keno. Others included Carlos Eduardo from Goiás, Arthur from Chapecoense, and striker Ribamar from Atletico Paranaense.
Additionally, they managed to recruit Zamalek stars Trek Hamid and Ali Gabr. Highly-rated ENNPI players Mohamed Magdy and Mohamed Hamdi from Al-Masary also joined.
Why would anyone invest so much capital in a small mid-table Egyptian club?
When people imagine huge investments in football, they think of an elite European club with a global brand. This is the place where the ultra wealthy like to invest. The likes of PSG and Manchester City are just but some of the few clubs that have Middle Eastern financial backing.
Therefore, the emergence of a Saudi sponsored club in Egypt was met by various reactions. The local football community did not expect such a rapid big money move. It was welcomed wholeheartedly for obvious reasons while it was also controversial just like many of the takeovers.
Genesis of the Takeover
All this began in December 2017, when billionaire Turki Al-Sheikh was appointment as the honorary president of Egyptian football powerhouse Al Ahly’s. The giants were in a dire financial crisis and needed a way out. The club therefore, brought Al-Sheikh on board.
However, after a few weeks, the relationship took a turn for the worst after disagreements about the building of a new stadium as well as the signing of new players. Additionally, this boiled over after Al Ahly’s failed to get the signature of Argentine tactician, Ramon Diaz. He took a detour and signed with Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad. This angered many in the Egyptian red devil’s hierarchy as they accused Al-Sheikh of having a hand in the move away from the club. This eventually led to his resignation.
Al-Sheikh exponentially organised himself and came back with a master plan of his own. He immediately acquired Al-Assiouty and Pyramids FC came into play.
In the first season after the takeover, Pyramids FC managed to finish 3rd, behind Zamalek and Al Ahly. Winning the league was not in their immediate plans according to the owner who set up a timeline of 3-5 years.
Even though they did not win the league in their first attempt, Pyramids FC qualified for CAF Confederations cup.
They are hunting for their first title, and as things look they may not have to wait for long. Additionally, they are performing well in the Confederations Cup and look set to win their first continental title soon.
The club also operates a TV station, Pyramids TV, which was set up by the owner. It has a huge budget that enables it to hire some of the best Egyptian pundits. Notable names include former Egyptian and Tottenham Hotspurs striker Mido, Ibrahim Hassan, and Khaled El-Ghandour.
Pyramids FC Fans
With the change of guard and substantial investments also came the change of the club’s home. The team was moved from its original home in Beni Suef to Cairo. This meant that the original local fans couldn’t attend the games. At this same period, there was a ban on fans going to the stadiums in Egypt.
Egyptian fans were banned from attending games after the tragic incident that happened in Port Said. The riots led to the death of many football fans. It became one of the reasons why fans were locked out of Egyptian league matches for almost seven years.
When the ban was lifted, Pyramids FC had no fans to attend its matches. Therefore, they started paying fans to attend the club’s home games at the 30 June Stadium.
The disruption that Pyramids FC has caused in the Egyptian football scene doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon. On July 4, 2019, Salem Saeed Al Shamsi, an Emirati business tycoon, was able to acquire Pyramids FC from Turki Al-Sheikh.
Pyramids FC’s entrance into the fray really stirred things up. Zamalek and Al Ahly now have a new, serious competitor.