Amnesty International demand Premier League meeting over Newcastle takeover
Amnesty say football needs to urgently update its rules about ownership
Amnesty International have requested a meeting with the Premier League following last week's Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United.
Before confirmation of the deal on Thursday, which saw Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) buy the club from Mike Ashley, Amnesty's UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh had urged the English top flight to consider the Middle East state's human rights record before approving the deal.
Following her unsuccessful attempts to force a rethink, Deshmukh has now written to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, requesting a meeting to discuss changes to the league's owners' and directors' test.
"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," Deshmukh said.
"How can it be right that the Premier League's current owners' and director's 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 granted approval of the takeover after being given assurances that PIF was separate to the Saudi state, which they were told would not control Newcastle. Despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman being listed as chair of the PIF, the Premier League was satisfied enough to sign off the deal.
Amnesty's concerns about the takeover are shared by many others. Despite being welcomed by Newcastle LGBTQ+ group United with Pride, the wider network of LGBTQ+ football supporters groups, Pride in Football, condemned the deal in a statement. Having repeatedly called for the introduction of a more thorough fit and proper owners' and directors' test in English football, their statement said that the Saudi-backed deal for Newcastle highlighted the inadequacy of the systems currently in place.
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