Premier League boss to quit following Saudi Newcastle takeover controversy
English Premier League chairman Gary Hoffman will step down at the end of January 2022, amid controversy over Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United.
Hoffman was subjected to an unofficial vote of confidence last week where over half of the Premier League chairmen called for his removal.
The 61-year-old recently came under fire for how the Newcastle deal was approved, with Premier League clubs complaining they had not been properly consulted before the Saudi sovereign wealth fund purchased the northern team.
“It has been a privilege to lead the Premier League through the last two seasons - when the spirit of English football has been more important than ever,” said Hoffman in a statement.
Hoffman will have only served 19 months in the job before stepping down.
“Now, I have decided the time is right for me to stand aside to allow new leadership to steer the League through its next exciting phase,” he said.
Hoffman, who was appointed in April last year and took over in June, was described as an "outstanding candidate" by Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck. But British media reported that he had lost the confidence of Premier League chairmen in recent weeks.
The former Barclays executive presided over a difficult time for English football, including the Covid-19 crisis, the European Super League and the Newcastle deal.
While Newcastle fans rejoiced over the Saudi takeover - given the club’s recent struggles - human rights organisations and the majority of clubs opposed the decision.
A number of Premier League clubs were only alerted about the deal’s finalisation via email and after it was reported in the media, which was seen as a “final straw” for their trust in Hoffman, reported the Guardian.
Top teams complained to the league after the £305 million takeover because of frustration about how it passed the owners' and directors' test.
British human rights campaigner and former Leeds United boss David Haigh told The New Arab that what Newcastle accepted is “blood money”.
“From a human rights perspective, it’s a disaster.[Saudi Arabia is] Sportswashing and getting away with it,” said Haigh.
He added that what this deal and others like it will do “is effectively create a super league” because all the Gulf-owned, rich clubs will be at the top “with unimaginable wealth and money”.