Amnesty International Calls For Premier League Meeting

The CEO of Amnesty UK has written to Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters offering to discuss a new human rights-compliant Owners’ and Directors’ test.



Sacha Deshmukh has written to Masters offering a meeting with corporate lawyer David Chivers QC who last year co-wrote a new human rights-compliant Owners’ and Directors’ test on Amnesty’s behalf.


The move comes after last week’s controversial purchase of Newcastle United Football Club by a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium.


The organisation sent a letter to the Premier League last July when it appeared the Saudi-Newcastle deal was unlikely to proceed.


However, the speedy finalising of the deal last week has lent new impetus to calls on the league to urgently update its ownership rules.


Amnesty’s analysis shows the current ownership test has numerous serious shortcomings, with no bar on ownership for those complicit in acts of torture, slavery, human trafficking or even war crimes.


The Chivers document – “Proposed change to the Premier League Rules Owners’ and Directors’ test to address international human rights and discrimination” – points out the phrase “human rights” fails to even appear in the current text of the test.


Last week’s deal appears to have relied on assurances that the Saudi Arabian government would not be involved in the running of Newcastle United, despite Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund – the majority purchasers of the club – being directly chaired and controlled by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.


Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said: “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.


“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.”