Everton’s Farhad Moshiri agrees sale of club to American firm 777 Partners | Everton

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The Premier League’s more stringent owners’ and directors’ test looks set to face its first major challenge after Farhad Moshiri has agreed to sell his entire stakeholding in Everton to the American investment firm 777 Partners.

The two parties have now signed an agreement for a full takeover, which Moshiri claims will secure the funding to complete the 52,888-capacity stadium on Liverpool’s waterfront, although the deal remains subject to approval from the Premier League, the Football Association and the Financial Conduct Authority. 777 Partners has been embroiled in numerous controversies since being founded by Josh Wander and Steven Pasko in 2015, including allegations of fraud, which the company denies. Wander also pleaded no contest to a drugs charge in 2003.

No details have been revealed of how much 777 have agreed to pay or how the deal will be funded. The Premier League introduced its beefed up owners’ and directors’ test in March and is expected to heavily scrutinise 777’s attempt to add Everton to its stable of football clubs that includes Genoa, Sevilla, Vasco da Gama, Hertha Berlin, Standard Liège, Red Star in France and Melbourne Victory. The purchase of Everton, which could be completed by the end of this year, would be its biggest acquisition to date. The company will also have to provide proof of funding to the Premier League. If successful, it would take the number of American owners or biggest shareholders to 10 clubs – half of the division.

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Premier League owners
Premier League owners

Takeover talks between the British-Iranian billionaire and the Miami-based company had advanced after the collapse of a proposed equity deal with another American investment firm, MSP Sports Capital, which has loaned £100m towards the construction of Everton’s new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. MSP and another Everton creditor, Rights and Media Funding, could object to the 777 deal or insist on having loans worth a combined £300m repaid.

Moshiri has invested over £750m in Everton since becoming a shareholder in 2016 and majority shareholder in 2018 but the club has gone backwards under his ownership. Everton have narrowly escaped two successive relegation battles and are without a win in the new Premier League season after another troubled transfer window. The club have also racked up debts of over £417m in the last five years and will appear before an independent commission in October over an alleged breach of financial fair play rules.

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Everton’s owner, who will write to the club’s minority shareholders asking for their support in the coming days, confirmed: “The nature of ownership and financing of top football clubs has changed immeasurably since I first invested in Everton over seven years ago. The days of an owner/benefactor are seemingly out of reach for most, and the biggest clubs are now typically owned by well-resourced PE [private equity] firms, specialist sports investors or state backed companies and funds.

“I have been open about the need to bring in new investment and complete the financing for our iconic new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, on the banks of the Mersey, which I have predominantly financed to date. I have spoken to a number of parties and considered some strong potential opportunities. However, it is through my lengthy discussions with 777 that I believe they are the best partners to take our great club forward, with all the benefits of their multi-club investment model.

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“As a result of this agreement, we have an experienced and well-connected investor in football clubs who will help maximise the commercial opportunities, and we have secured the complete financing for our new stadium, which will be the critical element in the future success of Everton. Today is an important next step in the successful development of Everton and I look forward to closely following as our club goes from strength to strength.”

777 Partners has signed an agreement with Farhad Moshiri to acquire his full stake in Everton Football Club, which accounts for 94.1 per cent of the Club’s shares.

— Everton (@Everton) September 15, 2023

The agreement would mean 777, which has been advised by Tifosy Capital, acquiring 94.1% of the club’s shares. Earlier this year Tifosy attempted to raise over $200m for 777 but it is understood it was unable to do so.

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Wander, the founder and managing partner of 777, said: “We are truly humbled by the opportunity to become part of the Everton family as custodians of the club, and consider it a privilege to be able to build on its proud heritage and values.

777 Partners’ portfolio
777 Partners’ portfolio

“Our primary objective is to work with fans and stakeholders to develop the sporting and commercial infrastructure for the men’s and women’s teams that will deliver results for future generations of Everton supporters. As part of this, we are committed to partnering with the local community over the long-term, working on important projects such as the development of Bramley-Moore Dock as a world class stadium venue, allowing thousands more Evertonians to attend our home matches and contribute to the economic and cultural regeneration of Merseyside.”

The Everton shareholders association reacted critically to the announcement and accused Moshiri of treating them with disdain. It said via a statement: “Receiving only a few minutes warning of this proposed change of ownership is disappointing and yet again, the poor timing of club announcements before important games is baffling.

“The owner and the club continue to treat shareholders and fans with disdain and we encourage the current and (proposed future) owners to walk their engagement talk immediately – that fans are the most important asset at any football club.”

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