Amnesty International have called on the Premier League to introduce tougher owner and director tests as the Newcastle United takeover nears completion.

Newcastle United are expected announce the takeover of the club by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) today in what will be a historic day for the club.

It is expected that the proposed move would see PIF own 80 per cent of the club, while Amanda Staveley’s PCP Partners and Reuben Brothers would each own ten per cent.

Responding to reports that the takeover could be edging closer, Amnesty International have said the move is an attempt at “sportwashing” Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

And the group has called for tougher tests to be introduced by the Premier League.

What has Amnesty International said about the Newcastle United takeover?

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said: “Ever since this deal was first talked about we said it represented a clear attempt by the Saudi authorities to sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.

The Northern Echo:

“Saudi ownership of St James’ Park was always as much about image management for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his government, as it was about football.

“During the course of this protracted on-off buy-out, we’ve seen the Saudi authorities finally release jailed women’s rights activists like Loujain al-Hathloul - though only with punitive conditions attached and only after years of pressure from the international community.

“Under Mohammed bin Salman, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains dire - with government critics, women’s rights campaigners, Shia activists and human defenders still being harassed and jailed, often after blatantly unfair trials.

“The closed-door trial of Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killers was widely perceived to be a part of a wider whitewash by the authorities, and Saudi Arabia is accused of a catalogue of crimes under international humanitarian law during the long-running conflict in Yemen.

“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.

“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.

“As with Formula 1, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”

What is the latest on the Newcastle United takeover?

The consortium withdrew after the Premier League identified the Saudi stake as a director with control over the club, which would have made it subject to the league’s owners’ and directors’ test as part of the takeover process.

The Northern Echo: Amanda Staveley. Credit: Brian Farmer/PAAmanda Staveley. Credit: Brian Farmer/PA

However, following a lifting of the bank, the takeover has accelerated overnight with the Saudi PIF set to take an 80% stake in the club.

The takeover would also bring an end to Mike Ashley's 14 year stay as the owner of Newcastle in what has transpired to be a toxic and turbulent reign at the club with fans overwhelmingly happy to see a new ownership take over.

The news is expected to be confirmed by today but there has been no official word on when there will be an expected announcement.