Everton takeover: Dan Friedkin and Michael Dell follow John Textor as Neville Southall proven right

With 777 Partners’ Share Purchase Agreement now having expired, and the brighter future on the horizon with the move to a new stadium now just a year away, the interested parties in Everton have started to emerge.

Back on September 15 last year, the Blues announced that 777 had signed an agreement with 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. At the time, the Blues' wantaway majority shareholder told us that after lengthy discussions: “I believe they are the best partners to take our great club forward.”

Many, including fans both at Goodison Park and the other clubs among the controversial Miami-based private investment firm’s global portfolio did not think so, but they, along with highly sceptical ECHO reporters were told to “give them a chance.” A bleak picture was painted that Everton, who have spent more seasons in the English top flight than anyone else, needed to either go along with 777 or face the end of their venerable 145-year-old football club as they knew it.

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But after eight-and-a-half months of trying and shuffling funds from one place to another – as our business of football writer Dave Powell pointed out, the cash was never coming from the current accounts of Josh Wander and Steve Pasko – yet failing to get the green light from the Premier League board, around four weeks ago things quickly started to collapse like a house of cards for 777 when it came to their aspirations of buying the Blues. Dogged by legal challenges, the deal already appeared dead in the water by the time their deadline passed.

Even when Moshiri was championing them as the most-favourable option for the club though, those who have far more-successful legacies at Everton had serious doubts. Neville Southall, who is both the club's record appearance holder and most-decorated player, told the ECHO: “I don’t understand with the club, its history, with the successes it’s had in the past, the fanbase that we’ve got, why there’s not a queue of people lining up to buy Everton. Why are there only odds and ends coming out?

“Yes the team needs money pumping into it and everyone knows that but if you look at Everton as an overall brand with the new stadium, for me as an investor I’d be going ‘wow’, if we can get this right on the pitch, that club is going to fly, it could be Champions League.

“All you’ve got to do now is get a team to match the ground because they’ll always make money once they make the move. For me it isn’t ‘who is coming in as an investor?’ it’s why there aren’t more of them queueing up to take advantage of a potentially great opportunity.

“I can only come to two assumptions from all of that. Either I’m seeing something that nobody else can or we’re really bad at marketing the club.”

The former Wales international added: “There are enough people out there across the world with the kind of money to make a difference. It does make you wonder when a group can go to Newcastle United – and I don’t think they’re as big as Everton – why Everton are not viewed as a much better potential investment than many other clubs.

“In today’s world, when I look at Everton Football Club, it’s a bargain. We just need some good, solid recruitment and then upstairs you’ve got to hope that it goes to someone who actually gives a s*** and can take the club forward.”

Now, it would seem that the rosier scene that Southall depicted is coming to the fore. Before time was even up for 777, John Textor, another multi-club owner who has a minority stake in Crystal Palace made a pre-emptive strike when he declared: “Everybody should want to buy Everton right now.”

Although the Missouri-born tycoon admitted getting rid of his shares at Selhurst Park in time to win the current Everton race might be difficult, after facing a constant bombardment of putdowns throughout most of 2023/24, he lifted beleaguered Blues’ hearts by insisting: “Everton represents the best of English football.” Since then, others are starting to be flushed out.

On Friday afternoon, Sky Sports News reported that there are now “five different parties interested in doing a deal,” – one of which is the bid from lifelong Evertonians Andy Bell and George Downing being backed by Michael Dell, one of the world’s richest men – and less than 24 hours after that they claim Roma owner Dan Friedkin can be added to that list.

Who would have thought it? Southall was right and Moshiri was wrong.

However, after a disastrous tenure of making mistakes, with a toxic churn of eight managers in as many years and a reverse Midas touch in the transfer market – arguably no other football club team has spent so much to become so bad – Moshiri needs to ensure that he bucks the trend and makes sure his final decision at Everton is the right one. Despite wasting a season indulging 777, it’s not like he’s short of credible options now.