The Premier League has responded to Amnesty International’s concerns over Saudi Arabia’s takeover of Newcastle United, assuring the human rights organisation that the necessary processes are being carried out with rigour.
Amnesty International had written to the Premier League urging them to prevent the consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – from completing the £300m takeover.
The takeover is expected to be completed by 1 May, providing its new ownership passes the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test, designed to ensure parties “meet standards greater than that required under law so as to protect the reputation and image of the game”.
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Amnesty UK director Kate Allen claimed that the Premier League “risked becoming a patsy” and a vehicle to distract from the country’s human rights abuses.
“So long as these questions (concerning Saudi Arabia’s human rights record) remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral, in breach of international law and at odds with the values of the Premier League and the global footballing community,” she wrote in a letter to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.
In response on Wednesday afternoon, Masters wrote: “You will appreciate that these matters are often subject to media speculation but at their heart are due processes, required by UK law and by the Premier League’s own rules, which cannot be conducted in public and on which we cannot comment.
“However, I can assure you that these processes go beyond those required by UK Company Law and they are applied with equal rigour to every single prospective purchase of a Premier League club.”
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