Gary Hoffman, the Premier League chairman, has announced that he’ll be stepping down from his role at the end of January 2022.
Gary Hoffman is expected to resign as Premier League chairman following a reaction from clubs over Newcastle United’s £300 million acquisition by a Saudi Arabian-based group.
The 61-year-old, who has been in charge of the English Premier League for just 18 months, has faced the bulk of the criticism from other football clubs over the Public Investment Fund’s clearance for the takeover of Newcastle United.
With various human rights concerns associated with Saudi Arabia, teams objected to the Premier League in October after the sale was approved, expressing dissatisfaction with how the bidders fulfilled the owners’ and directors’ test.
While Premier League authorities thought there was no choice but to allow the agreement to proceed 18 months after it was originally blocked, teams were dissatisfied at being informed about it so belatedly that they could not coordinate an effort to prevent it.
As a response to the takeover, clubs immediately began the process of halting commercial deals related to the possession of Newcastle United in an effort to limit the amount of money they can spend for concerns of warping the league.
Who Is Gary Hoffman?
Gary Hoffman has his fingers in a lot of pies.
Granted, his Premier League role is, or was, the only element of his portfolio that isn’t banking related, although there is unquestionably still a lot of money involved.
Gary is also the chairman of Monzo Bank and Coventry Building Society, following his earlier and similar roles at the likes of Northern Rock, NBNK and Hastings Insurance.
The late spring and summer of 2021 was an eventful time for Mr Hoffman, as he faced backlash in regards to his involvement with the proposed formation of the European Super League – which definitely contributed to his resignation alongside his bias in the Newcastle Takeover – and in July was under investigation at Monzo for alleged money laundering breaches.
Of course, Gary Hoffman will still be a busy man even after he ceases his involvement with the Premier League, but who knows what he’ll be looking to fill that void with next – maybe something a bit more relaxing and leisurely like birdwatching or Which Casino live dealer games.
What Is The Public Investment Fund?
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is effectively the Saudi government’s official savings account. Its main source of revenue is oil, which Saudi Arabia sells all around the globe.
However, alongside its gradually depleting nature, oil is going out of fashion in favour of renewable energy sources, and the PIF must find other methods to generate revenue in the long run.
The Fund’s dealings outside of oil span much farther than just their investment in the Premier League’s Newcastle United, they’ve been bunging cash in the direction of multiple industries for a while now.
PIF already have financial involvement with the likes of Boeing, Facebook, Citigroup, Disney, Pfizer, Starbucks, Uber and many more, and you can bet your last Jaffa cake they’ll be planning on expanding this portfolio immensely.
Politically, there’s a huge reason why the group’s takeover of Newcastle United has been so controversial, and the word used to describe that reason is “sportswashing”.
What Is Sportswashing?
Sportswashing is the activity of an individual, group, business, or nation-state attempting to enhance its repute by hosting a sporting event, purchasing or sponsoring sports teams, or participating in the sport itself.
As shown within the cases of Qatar bidding for the World Cup and the UAE’s takeover of Manchester City, sportswashing has previously been utilised to distract from a country’s dismal human rights records and corruption problems within its government.
As well as oil, Saudi Arabia is infamous for its anti-LGBT stance, its poor treatment of women, and its continued use of the barbaric death penalty. Human Rights groups like Amnesty International believe the Public Investment Fund’s takeover of Newcastle is an effort to detract from these issues and have their name better associated with football instead, like the UAE and Manchester City.
It’s not just football that sportswashing has been known to be prevalent. There have been accusations of this taking place in numerous sports, including Formula One, boxing, basketball, baseball, Esports and more.
As well as sportswashing, there will be other obvious objections to the Newcastle United takeover from a competitive point of view, too. As seen with Manchester City, it’s likely that we’ll see Newcastle making their way up that league table – that is if they can avoid relegation this season.
Hopefully, financial fair play will do its part.
What Is The Owners’ And Directors’ Test?
According to the Premier League themselves, of whom, with Gary Hoffman still involved, permitted this takeover of Newcastle United from Sports Direct’s Mike Ashley, The Owners’ and Directors’ Test specifies the standards that must be met before an entity, whether individual or consortium, may become an owner or director of a club.
Criminal convictions for a variety of offences, a suspension imposed by a sports or professional body, or violations of important football laws, such as match-fixing, are examples of these.
The exam is administered to potential owners and directors, who are subsequently subjected to a periodic assessment going forward. The Test requirements may be found in full in Section F of the Premier League Handbook.
Within this section of the handbook – section F.1.5 to be precise – the law of the game indicates that having a criminal conviction ‘issued by a court of the United Kingdom or a legitimate court of foreign jurisdiction’ precludes you from being an owner/director.
However, there is little evidence that possible human rights violations, for example, will be taken into consideration. An additional section of transgressions in the rulebook refers exclusively to those associated with the game itself, such as match-fixing, as previously mentioned.
FIFA currently has its own Human Rights Policy, although there are no legislative rules regarding club ownership that would impact individual organisations and leagues.