The Premier League has been urged to ‘sort out’ its Owners’ and Directors’ test following the collapse of a controversial Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United.
Amnesty International has described the current test as ‘hopelessly unsuited’ and called on the Premier League to ‘get its house in order’ following the months of uncertainty surrounding a potential takeover of Newcastle, a consortium controversially backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The collapsed deal has highlighted human rights issues and sportswashing in regard to the ownership of Premier League clubs, with Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman – one of the key players in the consortium – accused of several human rights breaches alongside the ordered killing of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, by the Saudi state.
Amnesty International have now expressed their concerns over the Premier League’s failure keep up with the ‘modern trends in international football ownership’, with issues such as ‘torture, slavery, human trafficking or even war crimes’ not currently prohibitive to taking charge of a top-flight side.
Amnesty’s legal analysis has outlined the ‘serious shortcomings’ in the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test and has presented the league’s officials with a new revised human rights-compliant version, describing the proposed takeover of Newcastle as a ‘major wake-up call’ to English football’s authorities.
“The controversy around the Saudi-Newcastle has been a major wake-up call – the Premier League urgently needs to get its house in order,” said Kate Allen, the UK’s Director of Amnesty International.
“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.
“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.”