March 31 – The Premier League has tightened its ownership rules by barring anyone found to have committed human rights abuses.
The changes, to apply with immediate effect, were approved unanimously by England’s top-flight clubs at a shareholders meeting.
They come at a time when ownership of Premier League clubs is under fresh scrutiny as bidders line up for Manchester United.
A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) acquired Newcastle United in 2021 after assurances the Saudi government would have no control of the north-east club.
Amnesty International has called the takeover “a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sports wash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.”
Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani is fronting one of the groups seeking to buy Manchester United from the Glazer family.
The list of criminal offences resulting in disqualification has been extended to cover violence, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and hate crimes.
The changes to the so-called Owners’ and Directors’ Test will allow the Premier League to remove leading officials if they contravene the rules. As well as human rights abusers, any individuals or companies subject to government sanctions can also be disqualified.
Notably, there will be annual checks by the league to ensure directors are complying.
The league will have the power to block potential directors who are under investigation for having been “involved in previous insolvencies in a wider range of circumstances” or “where they are under investigation for conduct that would result in a disqualifying event if proven”.
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