The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) have released a letter sent this week to Oliver Dowden – the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – over the Premier League’s lack of transparency in relation to the Saudi takeover saga and upcoming arbitration hearing
Read the letter, written by Trust chair Greg Tomlinson, in full below:
Dear Mr. Dowden,
NEWCASTLE UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB – PREMIER LEAGUE TRANSPARENCY.
I am writing to you as the Chair of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (Newcastle United Supporters Society Limited IP030721 (“NUST”)) in respect of the role of the English PremierLeague (“EPL”) in arbitration in relation to the proposed takeover of Newcastle United Football Club (“NUFC”).
On 19th August 2020 representatives of NUST met with the Chief Executive of the EPL, Richard Masters, and he told us that at that point in time he had gone as far as he could to provide an explanation as to what had occurred during the EPL’s consideration of its Owners’ and directors test.
Richard Masters went on to inform us that a time would come where he was able to say more and he would very much like that time to come. Eleven months later we are still none the wiser as to what occurred and there has still been no transparency from the EPL in relation to this matter.
The case is now in the process of arbitration in accordance with the EPL Rules. The EPL rules provide that the arbitration process is confidential unless both parties agree for it to be public.
NUFC have stated their desire for arbitration to be public given the issues at stake, which include the lawfulness of the EPL’s decision making process and the widely publicised alleged influence of the EPL’s commercial partners on the EPL’s decisions.
These are of far wider interest to other football clubs, fans, and the public in general. The EPL has resisted any elements of its decision-making process being made public despite informing NUST that it would welcome the opportunity to do so.
Given that NUFC wishes the case to be made public there appears to be no impediment to this arbitration process now being as transparent as possible.
There is a significant lack of confidence in the EPL and its processes, not only from NUFC fans but wider stakeholders throughout the game and a perception that the EPL serves a narrower so-called ‘Big Six’ clubs, as evidenced by the disastrous attempt to form a breakaway European Super League (“ESL”).
Prior to the ESL we had Project Big Picture, where again certain clubs were plotting a power grab, including an attempt to give the so-called “Big Six” a veto on prospective takeovers. The influence of these clubs has significant consequences far beyond football and leads one to question what influence these clubs, and other outside influences, have had on the EPLs processes in relation to the takeover of NUFC?
There is now a clear need for fundamental reform of football governance, NUST is supportive of the ongoing fan-led review into football governance and provided evidence to Tracey Crouch and the panel in June. There is no doubt in my mind that football needs fundamental reform to be re-set to operate in the best interests of fans.
NUFC is a historical, cultural institution that plays a vital role in the heart of the community of Newcastle upon Tyne and the wider North East region.
Your government has committed to protect our greatest national institutions including football and, while I have no doubt you will see this as a dispute between the EPL and the current owner of NUFC, surely you agree that it is in the public interest for this case to be heard in public, especially given Richard Masters stated position in August 2020?
This is very much an opportunity for you to take a robust stance in the interests of football supporters. After all, almost all football clubs in this country were formed out of their community, for their community.
I would very much welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your officials to discuss these issues as soon as possible
Chair of the Board of Directors
Newcastle United Supporters Trust