Own­ers’ test has to re­view hu­man rights records, urges Amnesty

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Jeremy Wil­son

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.”

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