Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has refused to get involved in the controversial proposed takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabia consortium backed by crown prince Mohammed bin Salam.

Mike Ashley is nearing a £300million sale of the Premier League club to a wealthy group of investors from the Middle East.

But given Saudi Arabia’s awful human rights record, there are some big concerns over letting the country bankroll a UK top division football club.

There have been calls for the government to step in and block the move but Dowden has passed the buck onto the Premier League.

“The first thing is for the Premier League to conduct a fit and proper person test,” Dowden told Sky Sports.

“They do this for anyone looking to take over clubs in the Premier League.

Mike Ashley

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