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Everton takeover: Parties lurk in the shadows as interest in club continues

Proposed bidders remain in the background as Farhad Moshiri’s efforts to sell Everton continue into a third summer.

The latest deal fell through on Friday night when prospective buyers 777 Partners failed to meet a key deadline for their shared purchase agreement with the club’s majority shareholder. It means Moshiri can now discuss new approaches for the Blues.

The development marked the latest setback in his efforts to find a route out of the club, a process that has now seen exclusivity deals with three different US-based groups expire without resolution. Uncertainty over the future of the club will continue for the coming months at least.

Interested parties are assessing Everton now that 777 Partners' deal is open to challenge, though none have emerged from the shadows just yet. With this summer looking increasingly pivotal for Everton, the ECHO takes a look at what we do know about some of the groups that could yet have a say.

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777 Partners

The Miami-based investment group is mired in trouble and any hopes it may have of being able to complete its takeover look destined to fail. Since signing a deal with Moshiri in September, the group has funded the club’s operating costs with almost £200m in loans while attempting to pass the Premier League’s regulatory checks. It has been unable to do so, and any hopes the group could add Everton to its global football portfolio now appear to be in tatters. That outcome had looked increasingly likely as a takeover 777 Partners hoped would be signed off before the beginning of 2024 dragged on and on before the group was buffeted by serious trouble this spring. Amongst other problems, its Australian airline entered voluntary administration, it was made the subject of $600m fraud allegations in a civil lawsuit filed in New York and its grip on the clubs it already has a stake loosened amid payment issues and protests in Belgium and a court hearing in Brazil.

For all the turmoil that 777 Partners has encountered, however, it still has a seat at the table due to the money it has already sent to Merseyside. For all the red flags, Moshiri remained committed to 777 Partners and convinced they could find the money needed to fund the deal. It was notable the club statement did not close the door on the group, instead simply thanking it for the support it had provided over the past nine months. Moshiri’s willingness to persevere so long with 777 Partners, coupled with a belief the ECHO understands remains at the group that they may still be in contention, means that even if those hopes are misguided, they may yet still have an impact on proceedings.

MSP Sports Capital

MSP Sports Capital were the second of the three consortiums Moshiri signed a deal with. Last summer, this looked set to be the change at the top that the club had been searching for as the group appeared ready to take a 25% stake in Everton and gain a significant boardroom presence as part of the deal. Co-founders Jahm Najafi and Jeff Moorad had been present at Goodison Park when the Blues lost to Southampton that January and the bid was linked to Everton supporters and successful businessmen Andy Bell and George Downing. It was thought the 25% might be used as a springboard into a great holding but the deal came crashing down in the opening weeks of last season, seemingly due to an objection by the club’s biggest external lender Rights and Media Funding.

MSP still ended up loaning the club just over £150m, a deadline for repayment of which was set for 777 Partners by the Premier League as part of its regulatory checks. That was missed - though an extension was granted and MSP declined to take up an opportunity to seize a controlling interest in Everton. The group appears to be in a tough position, with some suggestions that while it may not want to take on responsibility for Everton, doing so might be the most effective way to get its money back.

John Textor and Eagle Football Holdings

American businessman John Textor burst onto the Everton scene a couple of weeks ago after he pointed to the club as an opportunity he believed others should be interested in, telling The Athletic: “Everton represents the best of English football: the struggles, the glory, the want. I love that it’s out of London. Everybody should want to buy Everton right now.” Textor has a 45% stake in Crystal Palace through his Eagle Football Holdings but is now looking to sell that after failing to acquire greater control. His hands-on approach at the clubs he oversees, which also includes Lyon and Botafogo, is a stark contract to Moshiri’s style of control from afar. But for all the positivity of his words, it is unlikely that he will be in a position to vie for Everton. He will not be able to make a formal move until he has sold his stake in Palace, which could take months.

Even he acknowledges it is unlikely that Everton will be around by the time he is in a position to consider moving for the Blues. Of Everton, he continued: “That kind of club is what I’m referring to, where the risk and the reward of your relationship and community is so great and you could come in, make promises and keep them. How great would it be to take one of these great English clubs back to sort of glory? We’re also looking at other opportunities and we don’t need to jump right out of Palace right into something. That’d be a mistake.

“I suspect that the problem with Everton is it won’t be available by the time we would be ready for it. You can’t own two clubs in one league and we’re not going to rush the situation at Palace, no matter how good another opportunity looks.”

Other parties moving in the shadows

Moshiri has had no shortage of enquiries about Everton throughout the period it has been known he is willing to listen to offers. Unsolicited approaches continued while the 777 Partners deal was in motion, but Moshiri remained committed to the group and even as their empire buckled he was unable to formally look elsewhere before May 31. Now that he can, it will be interesting to see whether some of the parties that have been moving in the shadows will step forward.

They include another US group that has been assessing the situation at Everton for some months and which has sought advice as part of efforts to understand the true state of the club and the position of Moshiri. Whether they will now emerge as a genuine contender remains to be seen, as do the terms upon which they and any other group would be willing to consider a move for a club that is in hundreds of millions of pounds of debt. That debt remains the biggest obstacle to a palatable takeover and any new interested party that emerges but is unwilling to provide a degree of transparency about their plans will prompt fear and suspicion over how they intend to take the club on.

While the groups owed sums by Everton will want to do everything they can to regain their money, the reality is they all have an interest in Everton being stable and sustainable. In order to lay the foundation for that, they may therefore have to compromise on their own demands in order to get someone they feel they can work with to take on the club.