Newcastle United‘s proposed takeover by a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium has drawn sharp reactions from Amnesty International and, one of Premier League‘s (PL) biggest overseas broadcast partners. Also Read - Coronavirus in Noida: 27 Fresh Cases Reported in a Day, Total Active Cases Now 209; 4-Year-Old Recovers
Amnesty has warned PL of becoming a ‘pasty’ if it approves the £300m takeover of the Magpies by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund which is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Also Read - COVID-19: Six-fold Jump in Cases, Five-fold Surge in Fatalities After a Month: Is Worst Yet to Come For India?
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In a letter to PL director Richard Masters, Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen has warned league’s image will take a hit if the deal goes through.
“I believe there are serious questions to address in determining whether the owners and directors of the company seeking to acquire NUFC are meeting standards that can protect the reputation and image of the game,” Allen said in the letter.
“If the Crown Prince, by virtue of his authority over Saudi Arabia’s economic relations and via control of his country’s sovereign wealth fund, becomes the beneficial owner of NUFC, how can this be positive for the reputation and image of the Premier League?
“So long as these questions remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral, in breach of international law and at odds with the values of the Premier League and the global footballing community,” she wrote.
Allen also fears that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic could prevent the takeover from undergoing close scrutiny it should have been put through otherwise. “The coronavirus crisis has already thrown a spotlight on football and its need to treat players and staff fairly, and now there’s a danger that the pandemic could obscure the need for a cool, measured and genuinely ethical decision over this deal,” Allen said.
As per the deal, the Saudi group will own 80 per cent of the club while the remaining shares will be split between Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners (10%) and British businessmen the Reuben brothers (10%).