The Premier League has announced a raft of changes to its ownership and directors test that are set to tighten the regulations governing club ownership in England.
These rules come as Manchester United is currently embroiled in a takeover likely to see the Glazers relinquish control at Old Trafford to another prospective owner.
It is widely believed that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani are leading the race to buy United from the Glazer family.
The two, alongside Finnish entrepreneur Thomas Ziliacus, are the only bidders to have gone public with their intentions to complete a majority takeover which would effectively bring the Glazer rule at the Theatre of Dreams to a much-needed end.
However, whoever emerges successful will be scrutinized more closely than ever before after the Premier League’s approval of the amendments made to the Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
What is the Owners’ and Directors’ Test? According to the Premier League’s official website, “The Owners’ and Directors’ Test outlines requirements that would prohibit an individual from becoming an owner or director of a club.”
“These include criminal convictions for a wide range of offences, a ban by a sporting or professional body, or breaches of certain key football regulations, such as match-fixing.”
In a statement released on Thursday, it was confirmed that Premier League clubs had unanimously approved changes to these regulations.
The decision was reached after a comprehensive review and consultations between clubs in England’s top-flight as well as other stakeholders.
Following the controversial takeovers of Manchester City and Newcastle United and now potentially Manchester United, there is now a lot more emphasis on tracking where clubs get money from and how these funds are spent.
One of the main changes is the lowering of the threshold for control of a club from 30% to 25%.
The number of disqualifying events that would effectively bar someone from becoming involved in the ownership of a football club has also been significantly increased.
These disqualifying events include individuals/companies subject to Government sanctions or those who are under investigation for “conduct that would result in a Disqualifying Event if proven.”
The most significant change perhaps is that Premier League owners will now face disqualification for human rights abuses under changes to the Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
Among the disqualifying events added are individuals and companies subject to human rights abuses based on the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations of 2020.
🚨 The full list of what now counts as a “Disqualifying Event” in the Premier League Owners’ and Directors’ Test. pic.twitter.com/SpwsCbQYh4
— UtdPlug (@UtdPlug) March 30, 2023
How does this affect the potential takeover of United?
These developments undoubtedly impact the sale of the Red Devils. Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol points out that as a result of the announcement, the sale of United is poised to become a more transparent affair than any other takeover preceding it.
✅ Changes to Premier League's Owners’ and Directors’ Test come into effect immediately
"Manchester United's takeover should be a lot more transparent than with takeovers in the past."
[via @SkyKaveh] pic.twitter.com/oAXHwyJVfV
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 30, 2023
Kaveh opines, “It is going to be harder to pass the test.”
📝 Premier League clubs unanimously approved a number of changes to the League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test at a Shareholders’ Meeting today
"It is going to be harder to pass the test."
[via @SkyKaveh] pic.twitter.com/gbSml7rYrG
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 30, 2023
As per 90min, “The clearest way in which the new regulations could affect the sale of Man Utd would be if it was decided that Sheikh Jassim is essentially buying the club on behalf of the Qatari government and they fail to pass the provision for human rights abuses.”
“This is something that could have tripped up the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund takeover of Newcastle.”
Qatar has been criticized for its human rights record.
However, it has been repeatedly relayed that Sheikh Jassim’s bid is completely independent and separate from the government. His proposal is being made by the newly formed Nine Two Foundation which has no affiliations to the Gulf state.
Simon Stone reports that Sheikh Jassim is not expected to face issues amidst the new changes.
Stone conveys, “Being stressed Sheikh Jassim’s bid for Manchester United is being made as a private individual and therefore no issues are expected. Re: Premier League’s statement around owners and directors today.”
Being stressed Sheikh Jassim's bid for @ManUtd is being made as a private individual and therefore no issues are expected re Premier League's statement around owners and directors today.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) March 30, 2023
It is important to note that more changes could be forthcoming. The Premier League is set to hold talks on further reforms which will then be considered at the league’s annual general meeting in June.
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