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Premier League quiet on reports that chairman is on the brink of resigning

Gary Hoffman Handout Photo
(Image credit: Premier League)

The Premier League has declined to comment on reports that chairman Gary Hoffman is on the brink of resigning.

According to Sky News, Hoffman is close to stepping down from the post following a backlash from clubs over the League’s handling of the takeover of Newcastle by a Saudi-led consortium last month.

The reports have emerged with a fan-led review into football governance chaired by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch expected to be published soon.

Newcastle were taken over by a Saudi-led consortium last month (Laurence Griffiths/PA).

Newcastle were taken over by a Saudi-led consortium last month (Laurence Griffiths/PA).

The Premier League was declining to comment on Tuesday evening when contacted by the PA news agency regarding the reports about Hoffman.

Hoffman, who has widespread experience in the banking and insurance industries, has been Premier League chairman for around 18 months.

The League approved the takeover of Newcastle, which saw Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) take an 80 per cent stake, on October 7 after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is listed as chair of PIF, but the Premier League was satisfied the state would have no dealings with the club.

The Premier League approved Newcastle's after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club (Andy Rain/PA).

The Premier League approved Newcastle’s after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club (Andy Rain/PA).

It is understood Premier League clubs subsequently voted through a one-month ban on sponsorship deals linked to club owners to allow time for further debate on the issue and possibly force through a permanent ban. Newcastle are understood to have voted against the ban and Manchester City abstained, with both questioning the legality of the process. The other 18 Premier League clubs supported it.

The takeover has been criticised with regard to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, with Amnesty International UK’s CEO Sacha Deshmukh last month telling the PA news agency: “We’d like to see Tracey Crouch’s forthcoming review into football governance accepting the case for strengthening the owners’ and directors’ rules, to make them human rights-compliant and prevent those implicated in serious human rights violations from buying their way into English football.”