Everton get takeover boost after exciting John Textor message and 777 problem removed

Everton “got rid of a big problem” in not being taken over by 777 Partners with John Textor a football investor who wants to compete for titles rather than cut costs and has restored pride to Botafogo.

That’s the verdict of Brazil-based football journalist Rodrigo Calvozzo who has witnessed the contrasting fortunes of 777’s Vasco da Gama and Textor’s Botafogo in his home city of Rio de Janeiro. Everton announced on September 15 that 777 Partners had signed an agreement with majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri to acquire his entire 94.1% stake in the club and that closing of the transaction was expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2023.

However, eight-and-a-half months on, the Miami-based private investment firm, who have been dogged by payment issues at clubs they do own and hit by legal challenges, were unable to get the green light on the purchase by the five members of the Premier League board as the Share Purchase Agreement ended on May 31 with Everton confirming Moshiri is now assessing all options on future ownership in a club statement. A week before that Textor, who as well owning 90% of Botafogo, has controlling stakes of Olympique Lyonnais and RWD Molenbeek plus a 45% minority share in Crystal Palace, declared his interest in buying Everton and has now been described as being the “front-runner” to complete a takeover by Sky Sports.

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For all the uncertainty and strife that Evertonians have been through, Calvozzo believes that events could work out well for their club if they were to get Textor rather than his much-maligned compatriots who spent the bulk of the 2023/24 season failing to get their deal over the line. He told the ECHO: “Given the experience we’ve seen at Vasco, I would say that Everton got rid of a big problem.

“777 was removed from Vasco’s sports management through legal action and the club had to resume command of the club. This was greatly celebrated among the fans, even though they know that until another company appears to make investments, the team will not be able to dream of great victories.

“Textor is an experienced investor and certainly has the capacity to manage a club like Everton. He recently said that he didn’t want to continue with Crystal Palace because he wants to compete for titles but with Everton it is possible that he will achieve his goal.

“For Botafogo fans, the concern is that their best players could go to the English club. However, if Textor knows how to balance investments, there will probably be no complaints from the supporters of Botafogo.”

Everton suffered two separate points deductions this season for PSR rule breaches but for all the Blues’ well-documented financial problems, Botafogo were arguably in a weaker position when Textor came in, but he has revived their fortunes with his hands-on approach. Calvozzo said: “Textor is greatly admired among Botafogo fans. Despite being one of the most important clubs in the history of Brazilian football, the team was experiencing administrative chaos and was in the Second Division and with no expectation of improvement when he arrived.

“Textor, in addition to investing financially in the team, restored the self-esteem of the fans who began to believe that it was possible to live a new era. In addition to marketing actions, Textor himself often attended fans’ parties and celebrations in person, watching games in the stands, which brought him even closer to the fans.

“Botafogo has improved a lot compared to what it was experiencing before his arrival. It is true that the situation was so bad that any small advance would be a great achievement.

“However, this went further. The club narrowly missed out on winning the Brazilian championship last year and returned to the Copa Libertadores (South American equivalent of the Champions League) after many years.

“The great merit of Textor’s management is finding good players who are not idols. Botafogo does not have any well-known players, except Diego Costa in 2023, but managed to find athletes through their scouts who gave good results in competitions.”

With his passionate approach, in many ways Textor is more like the fans in the stands than Everton’s current majority shareholder Moshiri and in April he was sentenced by Brazil’s top sports court for ignoring orders to provide evidence to back up his claims of match-fixing after he called out the country’s football chief in a furious expletive-ridden rant on live television earlier this season. Calvozzo admits such an approach has made the Missouri-born tycoon something of a polarising figure.

He said: “Textor has made statements several times that he had initially made an investment, but that Brazilian football made him fall in love. Apparently these statements are sincere and not just marketing actions, so this made it much easier for him to get closer to the fans.

“This has not been well-received by the press. More traditional professionals think he shouldn’t behave this way, but the results place these journalists far from the reality experienced at the club.

“In terms of outburst over refereeing decisions, many understand that he was hasty and also it was an exaggerated reaction. He promised to present evidence that there was manipulation of results, but to date, he has only shown studies that indicate the possibility through artificial intelligence, which was considered inconsistent.

“Some managers from other clubs wanted him to suffer more severe punishments, but this did not happen, but it left him somewhat isolated in terms of the league’s joint decisions.”

Given the decades-long flow of top football talent from Brazil to Europe though, is there a concern among Botafogo fans that their team – along with Textor’s other acquisitions – could ultimately just become a feeder club for Everton if he was to complete at takeover at Goodison Park? Calvozzo said: “The fear is that these groups could make Brazilian football just a supplier of players for European clubs, as was the case between Botafogo and Lyon.

“Even so, teams that were experiencing serious financial problems found this model a solution to prevent clubs from closing, as was the case with Vasco, Botafogo and Cruzeiro, with Ronaldo. Botafogo’s model is the opposite of 777 and Ronaldo, who suffered a lot of criticism for not being close to the fans, barely being present at games and putting former Corinthians and Internacional players in charge of the team before selling his stake to a Brazilian businessman called Pedro Lourenço.

“Textor’s proximity to the fans made his job a lot easier. Unlike these other examples, which were closed and started to be seen as problems and not solutions for Vasco and Cruzeiro.”