The original Newcastle deal collapsed in July 2020 amid scrutiny from the Premier League, which came under pressure to stop the sale due to concerns over alleged broadcast piracy in Saudi Arabia.
The piracy dispute involved Qatari-owned beIN Sports, the Premier League’s broadcast rights holder across the Middle East, which had been barred from operating in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia lifted that ban on Wednesday, clearing a major hurdle to the Newcastle deal. But concerns about the kingdom’s human rights record remain.
‘Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues,’ Amnesty’s Deshmukh said.
‘The phrase “human rights” doesn’t even appear in the owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to FIFA standards.
‘We’ve sent the Premier League a suggested new human rights-compliant test and we reiterate our call on them to overhaul their standards on this.’
The Premier League did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Saudi Arabia’s government denies allegations of human rights abuses and says it is protecting national security from extremists and external actors.
The BBC had earlier reported that PIF, which is providing 80 per cent of the funding for the deal, would be treated as separate to the Saudi state under the ownership test, meaning concerns over piracy or human rights abuses should not affect the bid.
‘The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules,’ Deshmukh said.