Premier League told to update Owners’ and Directors’ Test amid Newcastle fallout


The Premier League has been ordered to update its Owners’ and Directors’ Test – to prevent human rights abusers buying top-flight clubs.

The move comes after the collapsed takeover of Newcastle United by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund chaired by their controversial Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.

Premier League chief exec Richard Masters has been told the current test has “numerous shortcomings”.

Amnesty International has commissioned a new “human rights-compliant” test from corporate lawyers David Chivers QC and Seamus Woods of Erskine Chambers, which it will today formally propose the league adopts.

Currently, the test bars someone on the sex offenders register from becoming an owner or director, but has no such ban for those involved in acts of torture, slavery, human trafficking or even war crimes.

Premier League chief exec Richard Masters has been told the top flight must ‘sort out the thorny issue of ownership’

The Saudi-funded bid for Newcastle was heated because of various incidents in the country including the jailing of government critics.

And the United Nations said the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “overseen, planned and endorsed by high-level officials” of their state.

The UK government identified some as working in the Crown Prince’s office last month, in a crackdown.

Amnesty found that the words “human rights” does not even appear in the Premier League test which they say should adhere to FIFA statues which commits to “respecting all internationally recognised human rights”.

The new test from Amnesty calls for the Premier League Board to ban anyone complicit in serious violations of international human rights law or any conduct that is at odds with the Premier League’s anti-discrimination policy.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said: “The controversy around the Saudi-Newcastle has been a major wake-up call – the Premier League urgently needs to get its house in order.

“The current Owners’ and Directors’ test is hopelessly unsuited to the task of vetting who gets to own and run English football clubs – it needs a serious overhaul.

“At present, anyone wishing to sportswash their reputation by buying into English football can do so knowing that even their involvement in war crimes or torture wouldn’t stop them.

Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman chairs the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund which was involved in a takeover bid for Newcastle United

“The Owners’ and Directors’ test simply hasn’t kept up with modern trends in international football ownership, not least with foreign powers buying their way into the game.

“Football can be a real force for good, as the excellent Football Welcomes project has demonstrated, but top-flight football needs to sort out this thorny issue of ownership.”

The Premier League has come under pressure from Toon fans and local North East MPs to explain why it took 18 weeks to examine the Saudi takeover, brokered by Amanda Staveley and also backed by the Reuben family.

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The deal collapsed last week without the top flight ruling on it, with the Saudi PIF saying it was “no longer commercially viable.”

There was also no legal way of watching the Premier League in Saudi Arabia after the state banned the top flight’s £400m regional broadcaster, Qatar-based beIN Sports.





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