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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Paul MacInnes and David Hytner

Premier League chairman to resign after Newcastle takeover controversy

Gary Hoffman is expected to step down imminently as Premier League chairman.
Gary Hoffman is expected to step down imminently as Premier League chairman. Photograph: Micha Theiner/Cityam/Shutterstock

The chairman of the Premier League, Gary Hoffman, is to announce his resignation from the role following the controversy over the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United.

Hoffman, who has been in the job for only 18 months, was the subject of an unofficial vote of confidence by Premier League chairmen last week, with over half calling for his removal. He is set to leave this week with final details being arranged between himself and the league.

He will step down after having become the focus of clubs’ fury over the way the Newcastle deal was approved. Clubs complained they had not been properly consulted over a decision to allow the Saudi sovereign wealth fund to buy the club, having been notified of the outcome by email and only after reports had been published in the media.

Hoffman, 61, wrote the emails and the messages were seen by clubs – particularly those outside the top six – to have been a “final straw” for their trust in the chairman. A highly respected banker who ran Northern Rock after it was nationalised during the financial crisis, Hoffman’s role at the Premier League is in a non-executive capacity. However, his short tenure has not only coincided with Covid but with the aborted breakaway plans of Project Big Picture and the European Super League, plots which incensed many of the same clubs that eventually wanted him out.

While Richard Masters, the league’s chief executive, is still believed to hold the confidence of most club owners, Hoffman became the object of intense ire at an emergency Premier League board meeting last month and pressure was put on him to stand down. Last week club owners met again informally and held a vote of no confidence in Hoffman which the chairman, unknown to him, failed.

During last Thursday’s official board meeting, where clubs came together to “unanimously” reject plans for a World Cup every two years, Hoffman’s future was not mentioned once. But everyone at the meeting knew the writing was on the wall.

A former Barclays executive, Hoffman has also worked for Visa Europe and once ran the insurer Hastings. He is also chairman of the digital bank Monzo. He took over as chairman of the Premier League in June 2020 but, what with Covid and the botched attempt to form a European Super League, it has been far from plain sailing.

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