Human rights abusers will be unable to become owners or directors of Premier League clubs under new rules.
Human rights abuses, based on the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020, will now be one of several additional “disqualifying events” under a beefed-up Owners and Directors Test (OADT).
The league also now has the power to bar people from becoming directors where they are under investigation for conduct that, if proven, would result in a “disqualifying incident”.
The Premier League has faced strong criticism in the past, particularly from Amnesty International, for allowing Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to take over Newcastle despite the country’s appalling human rights record.
Under new rules approved by clubs on Thursday, a person or a company being subject to government sanctions is still a disqualifying event, while the range of criminal offenses that could result in disqualification has been expanded to include offenses involving violence, corruption, fraud has been included. , tax evasion and hate crimes.
The league also voted to widen the group of regulatory authorities where the current suspension would result in disqualification, now including the Charity Commission, Financial Conduct Authority, Prudential Conduct Authority and HMRC.
The league’s moves to strengthen its testing come at a time when a government white paper on football governance is proposing that a new independent regulator set up an “enhanced” testing of owners and directors, aimed at replacing the tests used Have to change. Premier League, Football Association and EFL.
Decisions taken by the Premier League Board under the new OADT will now be subject to review by a new, independent oversight panel.
The ‘control’ threshold has been reduced from 30 per cent to 25 per cent, and club CEOs will now be brought under the OADT.
The new process should also be more transparent. The league says a list of agreed ‘acquisition material’ – information required by the Premier League to carry out due diligence – will be published as part of an acquisition process.
Additional annual due diligence will be conducted on existing club directors to ensure ongoing compliance with the OADT. The league also committed to publish the names of individuals or companies that have been disqualified under the OADT and to prepare an annual compliance report.
New ‘Disqualification Schedule’ added to OADT:
- A new disqualification program for individuals/companies subject to government sanctions
- A new disqualification program for human rights abuses based on the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulation 2020
- Expanding the list of criminal offenses resulting in disqualification to include offenses involving violence, corruption, fraud, tax evasion and hate crimes
- Expansion of the list of regulatory authorities whose suspension would lead to disqualification, to include the Charities Commission, the FCA, the Prudential Conduct Authority, HMRC and the Gambling Commission
- Broadening the scope of insolvency provisions, enabling the league to take action against persons involved in previous insolvency in a wider range of circumstances
- A new power for leagues that can bar those who aspire to be ‘directors’ where they are under investigation for conduct which if proved would result in a ‘disqualifying incident’.
‘Significant change – PL has listened to criticism’
Sky Sports News Chief Correspondent Kev Solhekol:
“These are important changes because, at first glance, it is now becoming more and more difficult to pass the test for owners and directors. This test has been criticized a lot in the past. People have said it is toothless and it should be a ” much more difficult
“It’s worth pointing out that annual checks are done so it’s not a case of taking the test once and passing it, meaning you can remain an owner and director forever. No, you have to check every year. will be checked out.
“We will also have a lot more information about who is taking the test and why they might fail, so the Premier League is trying to be a lot more transparent.
“Also, when it comes to acquisitions, he says there will be more clarity and transparency on the due diligence that will be conducted by the league.
“These measures come into force with immediate effect, so in terms of the Manchester United takeover, it should be a lot more transparent and we should have a lot more information with the Premier League than we have had in the past.
“The Premier League would say that they have heard the owners and directors’ criticism of the trial and have responded unanimously.”
Amnesty International: a step forward but more is needed
Peter Frankenthal, director of economic affairs at Amnesty International UK, said it was “a step in the right direction”, but added: “It will make little difference unless the premier is certain that powerful individuals linked to serious human rights violations abroad The league is barred from taking control of clubs and using them to launder state games.
“Will, for example, future bids involving Saudi or Qatari sovereign wealth funds be blocked by this rule change? It is unclear if they will.
“Simply checking whether people are on an existing UK sanctions list is a very low bar, and sanctions lists reflect the government’s foreign policy priorities rather than any objective assessment of human rights issues.
“Nearly three years ago we proposed a comprehensive new human rights-compliance test that would bar ownership of footballs where individuals were involved in acts of torture, slavery, human trafficking and war crimes.
“The acid test of whether this new rule is fit for purpose is whether it will include serious efforts to assess potential buyers’ involvement in human rights abuses.
“The Premier League needs to adopt a proactive screening process and not simply outsource its due diligence to others.
“Top-flight English football still risks becoming the sporting wash-toy of authoritarian figures around the world unless the Premier League gets it right.”