Sheffield United-linked US investment firm seal takeover deal for Blades’ Premier League rivals
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US investors 777 Partners, the investment group linked with a potential takeover of Sheffield United earlier this year, have agreed a deal to buy their relegation rivals Everton. The group reportedly eyed up United after their promotion to the Premier League, with a view to entering English football, but have reached an agreement with Farhad Moshiri over his 94.1 per cent stake in the Toffees.
The deal still requires ratification from the regulatory bodies, including the Premier League, the Football Association, and the Financial Conduct Authority. A statement from Everton said that the transaction is expected to close “in the fourth quarter of 2023,” with Moshiri “seeking support from the club’s minority shareholders and ... writing to them in the coming days.”
Based in Miami and holding offices in New York and London, 777 already hold stakes in a number of other clubs including Genoa, Standard Liege, Vasco de Gama and Sevilla and showed their intentions to acquire an English club by previously holding talks with Goodison Park officials, before negotiations collapsed. The group are also understood to have looked into the possibility bidding for West Ham but were said to have viewed the Blades as an attractive proposition, given their Premier League status and owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s willingness to sell.
Moshiri, Everton’s majority shareholder since 2018, said: “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 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.
“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.
“Of course, none of this could have been achieved without the hard work of everyone at the club. From our team at the training ground, our commercial and support teams through to matchday employees, I extend my sincerest gratitude. And to our fans, the last few years have been challenging but you have supported the club through it all and consistently been our twelfth man. You are the best fans and deserve success.”
United were the subject of interest from a number of parties based in North America since it was effectively put up for sale by Prince Abdullah. Despite seeing deals with American businessman Henry Mauriss and Nigerian Dozy Mmobuosi fail, United remain in discussions with prospective new owners - although chief executive Stephen Bettis admitted recently that progress is “not moving quickly”.
“There are a few interested parties and due diligence has been done and continues to be done [on prospective owners],” Bettis added. “Discussions are ongoing about their intentions for the club and how they’re going to move it forward to make sure they’re happy with what they’re doing. Until all of those things are satisfied, nothing changes.”
Josh Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners, added: “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. 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.”