Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley has not been asked to stay on at the club for an interim period
Wednesday 22 April 2020 17:40, UK
The Premier League and its 20 clubs have received a letter from broadcaster beIN Sport urging them to block the sale of Newcastle to a Saudi-backed consortium.
PCP Capital Partners' proposed takeover of the club is nearing completion after the consortium paid a £17m deposit and exchanged contracts with current owner Mike Ashley.
The letter claims Saudi Arabia is involved in the illegal streaming of Premier League matches, threatening the future value of the league's rights worldwide.
beIN is based in Qatar, which is involved in a diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia and a number of neighbouring countries.
The Premier League already has a club in Saudi ownership after Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad gained full control of Sheffield United in September 2019.
The letter says: "The danger of allowing the acquisition of a controlling or material interest (whether acquired directly or indirectly) in a major Premier League club by what is effectively the Saudi Arabian government cannot be ignored given the country's past and continuing illegal actions and their direct impact upon the commercial interests of the Premier League, its member clubs, it's broadcast partners and football in general.
"As a longstanding partner and huge investor in the Premier League, we urge you to consider carefully all the implications of doing so."
Amnesty International has written to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters to fully consider the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia as part of the Premier League's owners and directors test.
In the letter to Masters, Amnesty UK's director Kate Allen said there are "serious questions for the Premier League to address" concerning the deal.
She said: "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 Newcastle deal."
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has indicated the Government will leave it in the Premier League's hands to decide whether the proposed Saudi Arabia-led takeover of Newcastle can be completed.
Asked about the potential takeover, Dowden said: "As you know the fit and proper person test is undertaken by the Premier League and I don't want to prejudge the process."
Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley has not been asked to stay on at the club for an interim period and expects to leave when the takeover is announced in the coming weeks, although he would be willing to stay on for a 'handover' period.