Owners’ test has to review human rights records, urges Amnesty
Amnesty International has written to the Premier League urging it to overhaul an owners’ and directors’ test described as “hopelessly unsuited” to scrutinise the human rights records of club owners.
The intervention follows the Saudi Arabian-backed bid for Newcastle United, which eventually collapsed when the public investment fund pulled out over concerns that had been raised regarding the country’s human rights record.
Amnesty has commissioned a “human rights-compliant test”, produced by lawyers David Chivers and Seamus Woods, and says the current Premier League test contains no prohibition even for those complicit in acts of torture, slavery, human-trafficking or war crimes.
Amnesty’s proposed test calls for the Premier League board to consider whether a prospective owner or director has been complicit in serious violations of international human rights law, or any conduct that is at odds with the league’s anti-discrimination policy.
Amanda Staveley, the financier who headed the Saudi-backed Newcastle bid, blamed the collapse on Premier League delays, while another source rejected allegations of “sportswashing”.
Amnesty’s letter, sent to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, suggests a meeting to discuss how to improve the test.
“The controversy around the Saudi-Newcastle deal has been a major wake-up call,” said Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director. “The owners’ and directors’ test is hopelessly unsuited to the task of vetting who gets to own and run English football clubs – it needs a serious overhaul.”