Premier League chairman Gary Hoffman resigns amid club fury over Newcastle takeover | Football news

The Premier League president is set to step down following a backlash from clubs over his handling of the Saudis’ takeover of Newcastle United.

Sky News has learned that Gary Hoffman, who only served as a non-executive 18 months ago, is close to finalizing his exit after being pressured to resign in recent weeks.

An announcement regarding his departure could be made in the coming days, said a senior club executive.

There was still a chance that Mr Hoffman would change his mind if enough clubs sought to persuade him to do so, the insider added, although the likelihood that this seems slim.

The 20 top clubs have reportedly been informed of the situation.

Mr Hoffman’s imminent resignation follows weeks of turmoil over the decision to allow the purchase of Newcastle for £ 305million by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

It comes at a sensitive time for English football, with a high-profile review overseen by former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch due to be published next week.

Ms Crouch’s report will recommend the creation of IREF (England’s independent football regulator), which will assume new powers to regulate the ownership and governance of professional clubs.

The departure of Mr Hoffman, a business heavyweight who helped keep Northern Rock alive following its nationalization in the 2008 financial crisis, is expected to provide ammunition for those who argue that English football brokers are unable to s ‘self-regulate.

He is also likely to raise questions about the appetite of credible candidates to replace him, given the Premier League clubs’ display of muscle power that heralded his exit.

Some gaming figures argue Mr Hoffman is being unfairly left out of the Newcastle deal, and say the League board has been placed in an impossible position.

Reports last month suggested a vote of no confidence in Mr Hoffman was a possibility amid the anger over the Magpies takeover.

His impending exit comes even as the Premier League is on the verge of securing record sums from the sale of its US television rights and with its wider finances in good shape in the context of the pandemic.

Nonetheless, he has been criticized by a range of clubs that they should have been kept more closely informed on the progress of Newcastle’s protracted negotiations.

Some club leaders also argued that the deal should have been blocked due to the Saudi regime’s poor human rights record.

The clubs’ complaints were quickly dismissed by the Premier League over its confidentiality obligations in discussions with the consortium, which also includes financier Amanda Staveley and billionaire owner family member Jamie Reuben.

Nonetheless, a meeting of the 20 clubs last month resulted in an overwhelming vote to ban related party transactions, with the effect of preventing Newcastle from entering into sponsorship deals with entities related to the Saudi state or its Fund. public investment (PIF).

Only Newcastle opposed the motion, while Manchester City, which is owned by members of the ruling Abu Dhabi family, abstained.

Mr Hoffman, who is a longtime Coventry City fan on the championship side, has had a high-flying career in business and finance, as well as chairman of the Football Foundation.

A former Barclays executive, he chaired Visa Europe, headed insurer Hastings and now chairs Monzo, the digital bank.

He took over the Premier League presidency in June 2020, ahead of the resumption of top-level matches that had been delayed by the first UK-wide coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Hoffman has also been immersed in the debate over Project Big Picture, the initiative led by Liverpool and Manchester United to reduce the number of Premier League teams to 18 while funneling some of the prominent revenue to the English League. of football.

Its most difficult test, however, came in April this year, when six English clubs confirmed they had signed an explosive deal to join a new European Super League (ESL).

The project imploded in less than 48 hours amid a torrent of criticism from football fans, politicians and administrators, including the Premier League.

Mr Hoffman oversaw the subsequent imposition of multimillion-pound fines on the six clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – and the removal of their leaders from key sub-committees of the Premier League.

An executive from a club that was part of the ESL project said: “He [Mr Hoffman] was a solid character on the Super League issue, but I don’t want to see him step down.

“He has been a pragmatic voice in the governance of the Premier League at a time of unprecedented turbulence. « 

Assuming Mr. Hoffman steps down, it risks leaving a void in league leadership at a critical time.

It is headed by Richard Masters, its permanent general manager since 2019 and deputy chief since the end of 2018.

The Premier League had gone through two unsuccessful processes to recruit a CEO to take on many of the responsibilities of Richard Scudamore, who served as its chief executive and then executive chairman for almost 20 years.

The President’s likely exit from the Premier League also comes as the Football Association prepares to welcome leading businesswoman Debbie Hewitt as its first female president.

Sky Sports News has contacted the Premier League for comment.

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