4 The Daily Telegraph Wednesday 1 July 2020 *** Sport Football Masters: No pressure from Government on Newcastle takeover “It obviously got out of hand, in the same way we have seen gatherings on beaches, street parties and things going on in wider society,” he added. There was confirmation from Masters that even if the season is curtailed, there is no chance of the campaign being voided, and he also said that “conversations have to intensify” with the English Football League over the structure of next season’s Carabao Cup. Masters agreed that a possible solution for the return of fans to games could be the use of so-called biological passports, which show they are clear of coronavirus. He said the Premier League would investigate the findings of a study, commissioned by the Professional Footballers’ Association, which revealed racial bias in football commentary, and said it would “take action” if necessary. There was a discussion on why no professional footballer had come out as gay, with Masters conceding that it was a failure in the game that a player had not felt able to do so. “We need to work harder on it. Creating a safe environment for all of our employees is part of our job, part of our responsibility,” he said. ment. It is hoped this will be resolved in the coming days. At times, under questioning from Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson, who claimed the Premier League was under “enormous pressure” from the Government, Masters looked rattled. Nicolson said it would be “humiliating” if the Premier League approved the deal, with PIF, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, providing 80 per cent of the funding. The crown prince, the country’s de facto leader who was referred to as “grisly” by Nicolson, was implicated No previous takeover has dragged on for this period of time. “All processes have to conclude and I would like the process to conclude shortly,” Masters told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. “I do appreciate the uncertainty. In a perfect world, takeovers would happen clearly, cleanly and in a timely fashion. Sometimes things get complicated.” Masters also stated that beoutQ, the pirate TV station which has been stealing sports events, including Premier League matches from the Qatari-owned beIN Sports, is no longer broadcasting, which will be an encouragement to those hoping the deal can go through. The alleged links between Saudi Arabia and the theft of broadcast rights had been a central issue holding up the controversial deal, which has also been condemned by human rights groups. chief football correspondent By Jason Burt Slow progress: Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the takeover had been ‘complicated’ Premier League chief tells MPs decision on Saudi bid near Under questioning from MPs, Masters admitted the takeover had been “complicated”, but insisted there had been no interference. “I’m not aware of the Government putting any pressure on the Premier League,” he said. It is now three months since the papers were lodged to register the intention by a consortium, involving the Saudi Public Investment Fund, to buy Newcastle. At that time, the indications were the checks on the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test would be completed within four weeks. PFA report on racism in commentary to be investigated The Daily Telegraph in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. During the 90-minute session, Masters was also questioned on Project Restart and joined the criticism of the mass gatherings of Liverpool fans celebrating their club’s title victory last week which, he said, were “regrettable”. understands that a dialogue is continuing between the consortium, which also involves PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers, and the Premier League and there are talks over the make-up of the proposed ownership of Newcastle and how that is linked to the Saudi govern- Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has revealed that a decision on the £300million takeover of Newcastle United is imminent and denied that the Government was applying any pressure to approve the Saudi Arabian-led deal. Premier League closes in on women’s game By Tom Morgan The Premier League is edging closer to assuming responsibility for both tiers of elite women’s football, according to its chief executive Richard Masters, who underlined his personal commitment to the merger in a grilling by MPs. Discussions with the Football Association over a timescale have been delayed by Covid-19, but Masters said the plan, which could unlock millions for the women’s game in TV money, “is something I want to see”. The contrast in fortunes between the Premier League and the FA Women’s Super League has been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks. Elite men’s football has rapidly resumed behind closed doors after lockdown, while all women’s sport faces a total of six months without competitive action. Talks over a merger first surfaced a year ago and Masters said there had since been “lots of dialogue” and that “we will return to that topic in the near future”. Facing questions from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Masters disclosed how England’s top-tier clubs had already given £1 million of funding to women’s football to ensure it has adequate virus testing regimes in place for the 2020-21 season. Masters said he did not expect the women’s game to be heavily impacted by extensive FA cuts, including widespread redundancies, announced on Monday to help to cover expected losses of around £300 million. He added: “In the last year we’ve had lots of dialogue with the FA and our clubs about the PL at some point assuming responsibility for the professional game.” French coup: Lucy Bronze (above) and Alex Greenwood (left) are joining City from Lyon
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