10@12 Webinar: Payments to Directors: Challenge and Justification


The Premier League Owners’ and Directors’ Test and international human rights – update (relating to work done for Amnesty International UK by David Chivers KC and Seamus Woods)

As reported earlier here, in 2020, Amnesty International UK engaged David Chivers KC and Seamus Woods to examine the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test to see if it would prevent someone from owning a football club based on complicity in international human rights violations. The Premier league – run by a limited company – applies this Test to anyone seeking to own or be a director of the football clubs that are current members of the League.

At that time, they concluded that the then‑current Test would not achieve that result. They provided Amnesty International with a proposed amendment to the rules that would introduce such a prohibition along with some accompanying legal commentary.

Amnesty International provided this material to the Premier League at the time and released it publicly as part of its ongoing efforts to campaign for change to prevent “sportswashing”.

Since then, David Chivers KC and Seamus Woods have continued to work with Amnesty International in their campaign to have the Premier League introduce a change of this kind to their rules. This has included them attending meetings with the Premier League alongside Amnesty International, including in March 2023.

Recently, on 30 March 2023, the Premier League announced that its clubs had unanimously approved a number of changes to the Owners’ and Directors’ Test. These included a new criterion that would disqualify owners and directors for human rights abuses (in particular if they had become subject to the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020).

In the media, Amnesty International has welcomed this move as being a step in the right direction, although it has also warned that the new rules will need to be implemented properly in order definitively to bar individuals linked to serious human rights violations from taking control of Premier League clubs and using them for state sportswashing.

David Chivers KC and Seamus Woods continue to assist Amnesty International in their efforts.

The Premier League’s 30 March 2023 statement announcing the rule changes can be found here and Amnesty International’s original 2020 press release on this topic can be found here. This includes a link to download David Chivers KC and Seamus Woods’s proposed amendments to the Test and the accompanying commentary.

David Chivers KC
Seamus Woods