Everton takeover: fear and uncertainty as statements issued over 777 Partners' clubs

Red Star fans protest against 777 Partners
Red Star fans protest against 777 Partners -Credit:Franco Arland/Icon Sport

The turmoil that has hit 777 Partners has sent shockwaves around the world with its football empire reeling from the latest developments.

The US group’s hopes of taking over Everton now look destined to fail following a series of problems that raise new questions about its ability to fund the deal.

But the Miami-based investment firm already has influence at sides from Belgium to Brazil, with concern over the future striking fanbases and club chiefs.

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The most high profile incident came in Belgium on Friday night, when Standard Liege’s game with Westerlo was called off following protests over the running of the club. Late payments for staff have been a regular feature of 2024 for the fallen Belgian giants, 777 Partners having typically attributed them to historic, isolated issues with the club’s former owners. But last week proved to be a watershed moment with the 10-time Belgian champions hit with a third transfer embargo on 777 Partners’ watch. On Wednesday of last week, licensing chiefs said Liege would be subject to a temporary transfer ban for failing to provide proof of meeting a payment deadline. The club issued a statement stating it was confident it could resolve the issue before the opening of the summer transfer window and sought to reassure supporters the sanction had no bearing on the club’s competition licence for next season.

Efforts to ease the concern of fans failed, however, with protests on Friday night preventing the team coach from reaching its stadium - leading to the game with Westerlo being postponed. The club said in a statement: “Standard Liège deeply regrets this situation and apologises to KVC Westerlo as well as to the supporters of both camps present at the stadium this evening.”

Anxiety caused by events in Belgium sought other clubs under the influence of 777 Partners to seek guidance. Hertha Berlin issued a statement on its social media channels in a bid to address a flood of queries about the status of the German club. They said: “We are currently receiving a lot of messages from you regarding the current reporting on our strategic partner 777. We have also taken note of the current developments surrounding the 777 Football Group. At this point, it is important to note that the 777 Football Group has not only fulfilled all contractual obligations to us, but has even made the agreed payments on time.”

Over in Brazil, club officials at Vasco de Gama appeared to struggle for updates from the group, however. Felipe Carregal Sztajnbok, legal vice-president of the club, was quoted by Jogada10 as saying that “777 did not respond to our latest inquiries”. With co-founders Josh Wander and Steven Pasko reportedly having been removed from 777 Partners’ football board, he added: “If the departure of football controllers and the bankruptcy or serious financial commitment of 777 are confirmed, we will have a direct impact on the situation of Vasco SAF.”

The impact of the group has long been viewed as contentious at the clubs it has taken over, the US group typically swooping on teams in financial distress. Cynicism has remained even at Red Star, the Paris club owned by the group that stormed the French third tier this season, with reports that supporters recently handing out mock dollar bills featuring Wander’s face alongside the words ‘in Josh we don’t trust’.

The concern spreading across 777 Partners’ football portfolio follow its Australian airline being entered into voluntary administration, the filing of $600m fraud allegations in a civil case in New York and a request for an extension to a loan repayment deadline that is one of four conditions the Premier League says must be met in order for the takeover of Everton to be given approval.