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Everton takeover: Richard Masters speaks out on why 777 deal still hasn't happened

Richard Masters has offered new insight on the attempted takeover of Everton by 777 Partners.

The Premier League chief executive said it is not for the organisation “to decide who the current owner wants to sell his club to” and added that, despite the US group not having been given the green light eight months on from signing a deal, Farhad Moshiri had appeared willing to continue talks with them.

Masters did accept that an independent Government regulator could lead to a quicker decision being made on the bid, but stressed his belief the Premier League would need to be part of that process.

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Moshiri reached an agreement to sell his 94.1% stake in the Blues to 777 Partners in September. Those involved in the deal hoped it would receive regulatory approval by the end of 2023 but, months later, it is yet to have been approved by the Premier League. The league is understood to have laid down four conditions for 777 Partners to meet, something it has been unable to do to date.

The takeover now appears destined to fail after the group fell into crisis this month, its Australian airline entering administration, it being hit with serious fraud allegations as part of a $600m civil lawsuit filed in New York, and concerns over its running of Belgian club Standard Liege leading to supporters preventing players from reaching its stadium for Friday night’s match with Westerlo.

Speaking to politicians over The Football Governance Bill on Tuesday morning, Masters said the Premier League’s Owners and Directors Test intended for decisions to be made with “objectivity and certainty”. When the takeover saga at Everton was raised, it was suggested the process featured neither of those attributes and Masters was questioned as to why the bid had not been rejected.

Masters said: “The Premier League’s role in this, as regulator, is to perform the test. It is not to decide who the current owner wants to sell his club to. That is his decision. At the moment, he wants to continue to have discussions with 777 about it. The Premier League has made very clear the conditions that have to be met by 777 if it wishes to become the owner of Everton. At the moment, because the takeover hasn’t been confirmed, I will leave it to the committee to make its own conclusions for where we are with that.”

Pushed over the length of time the process has taken without reaching a conclusion, Masters added: “I do accept takeovers that carry on for a very long time are not good for fan certainty and that is why we have a very big team of people who do nothing else than this. All I would say is that, over time, particularly in the Premier League, takeovers are becoming increasingly complex…we want to make sure all decisions are correct even if that means taking a little bit more time to make sure that decision is correct.”

Masters appeared to accept an independent regulator could reach quicker decisions on this matter, but stressed his belief any future tests would need to be conducted in conjunction with the Premier League and not cut out the involvement of the organisation.