Football news - Amnesty International seek Premier League meeting after Newcastle’s Saudi-led takeover
The Premier League said it received "legally binding assurances" that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United when confirming the takeover last week. Amnesty International is the world's leading human rights organisation, and is seeking a meeting with Premier League CEO Richard Masters to discuss the owners’ and directors’ test.
Amnesty International is seeking a meeting with the Premier League to discuss the owners' and directors' tests currently in place following Newcastle United’s takeover by a Saudi-led consortium.
Newcastle’s new owners include Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF), who have an 80-per-cent stake in the club after ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has led to widespread criticism of the £305m deal, and Amnesty UK boss Sacha Deshmukh has written to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters to question the takeover.
Deshmukh said: "The way the Premier League waved this deal through raises a host of deeply troubling questions about sportswashing, about human rights and sport, and about the integrity of English football.
Newcastle United supporters celebrate outside the club's stadium St James' Park in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England on October 7, 2021, after the sale of the football club to a Saudi-led consortium was confirmed. - A Saudi-led consortium completed
Image credit: Getty Images
"How can it be right that the Premier League's current owners' and directors' test has nothing whatsoever to say about human rights?
The events of last week will have lent even more urgency to the Government's ongoing review of the governance of English football. Football is a global sport on a global stage - it urgently needs to update its ownership rules to prevent those implicated in serious human rights violations from buying into the passion and glamour of English football.
"We hope that Richard Masters will see that making the football's ownership rules human rights-compliant can only be for the long-term good of the game."
The Premier League said it received "legally binding assurances" the Saudi state would not be controlling Newcastle when ratifying last week’s takeover. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is listed as chair of PIF.
Amnesty’s offer to talk with Masters could also include David Chivers QC, the lawyer who was asked by the organisation to co-write owners' and directors' test which took human rights’ records into account.
The remaining 19 Premier League clubs were also united in their opposition of the takeover, last week pushing for an emergency meeting.