Oct 9 (90 Min) – The Premier League is facing calls from clubs to hold an emergency meeting regarding the takeover of Newcastle United.
A consortium made up of PCP Capital Partners, David and Simon Reuben and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund finally completed their long-awaited takeover of the Magpies on Thursday afternoon, ending Mike Ashley’s tempestuous 14-year tenure as owner.
The news has been warmly received by Newcastle supporters, who partied long into the night outside of St James’ Park after the Premier League officially ratified the deal, but The Guardian report that there is fury among the top-flight’s other 19 clubs about the takeover going through.
Clubs are demanding to know what prompted the Premier League to change their mind and allow the deal to go through, as well as wanting to know why there was little notice provided about their change in stance.
Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, and chairman, Gary Hoffman, are said to have received complaints from clubs who feel they were blindsided by the announcement, particularly as the subject of a takeover was not on the agenda of the most recent shareholders’ meeting held two weeks ago.
There has been widespread condemnation from human rights groups and Amnesty International about PIF being allowed to seized control of Newcastle, owing to accusations against the Saudi state of multiple human rights violations, allegations of war crimes in Yemen and the alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Amnesty International had previously urged the Premier League to change its owners’ and directors’ test “to address human rights issues”, clearly stating it should have been a factor in deciding whether or not to allow a takeover to proceed.
“Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues,” Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International chief executive, said.
“The phrase ‘human rights’ doesn’t even appear in the owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to Fifa standards. We’ve sent the Premier League a suggested new human rights-compliant test and we reiterate our call on them to overhaul their standards on this.
“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”
Premier League clubs are understood to have learned via the media on Wednesday that a deal was going to be pushed through, and later received an email saying the deal was done after “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United” had been received.