What the changes to Premier League owners' and directors' test mean for Man Utd takeover
By Euan Burns
The ownership of football clubs has never had more attention than it does right now.
Following the takeovers of clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, then Newcastle and now potentially Manchester United, there is a lot more focus on where money is coming from and how it is spent.
The focus right now is on Man Utd with the Glazer family willing to sell up and various bidders going through the process of trying to become the new owners of one of the biggest sports teams in the world.
In the midst of the bidding process for the Red Devils, though, changes have been approved to the owners' and directors' after a shareholders meeting that took place on Thursday.
What do the owners' and directors' test changes do?
A prospective owner, part-owner or club director has to meet certain requirements which are set by the Premier League.
It is a system that is being heavily scrutinised following the takeovers of Man City and Newcastle given there is a lack of clarity as to whether the clubs are essentially owned by the states of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia respectively.
One of the main changes that was made during the meeting that included clubs and stakeholders is the threshold for control of a club has been lowered from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.
They have also now added a number of disqualifying events, meaning things that can outlaw someone from becoming involved in the ownership of a football club. They include potential disqualifications for people or companies under government sanctions, or those who are under investigation for 'conduct that would result in a Disqualifying Event if proven'.
There will now be greater transparency over the process and any individuals and companies that are disqualified will be publicly named. Perhaps the most crucial change is that now, a new provision for human rights abuses is being created based on Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations in 2020.
These may not be the only changes that are made considering the Premier League will now consult with clubs and stakeholders on further reforms, and they will then be considered at the league's annual general meeting in June.
Read more on Man Utd's potential buyers
How does it affect the sale of Manchester United?
The two main parties that appear to be battling for the ownership of Manchester United are Sir Jim Ratcliffe with his company INEOS and Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Bin Khalife Al-Thani who is from Qatar.
He is the son of Qatar's former prime minister and the head of Qatar Islamic Bank. There is also a bid from Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus, although many treat that bid with less credibility than Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim.
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, something that could have tripped up the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund takeover of Newcastle.
Sheikh Jassim has insisted his bid is separate from the state and will be funded through his Nine Two Foundation. The trend of ownership in the Premier League and generally at the top level of European football suggests that no rules will stand in his way, even with the new changes.
Considering the Glazers have not explicitly said they want to sell the entire club, the changes also mean that the current bidders have to commit to at least a 30 per cent stake in the club, although all three of the named parties were above that level of investment anyway.
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