Ex-Everton chief makes new stadium naming rights claim after Man City launch legal bid

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 6: A general exterior view of the construction of the New Everton Stadium at Bramley Moore Dock on May 6, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Keith Wyness believes Everton could take advantage should Manchester City win its controversial legal dispute with the Premier League.

The title winners are challenging the league’s Associated Party Transaction rules, claiming they are unlawful.

The regulations are aimed to prevent clubs from benefiting from exaggerated commercial deals with companies linked to their owners. Should City’s case prove successful, Wyness believes it could pave the way for clubs like Everton to tap into a lucrative revenue stream for deals such as the naming rights to the club’s new stadium.

EVERTON TAKEOVER: Andy Bell and George Downing plan among rival proposals for future of club

READ MORE: Everton facing transfer confusion amid absurd PSR situation with Premier League

The Times reported this week that City are intent on ending the APT rules, which they claim are unlawful, and are seeking damages from the Premier League. They were introduced in December 2021 after the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United. Abu Dhabi-owned City have United Arab Emirates airline Etihad Airways as their stadium and shirt sponsor, while Newcastle United and Chelsea also have agreements with companies linked to their majority investors. Such transactions have to be independently assessed to be of "fair market value" and City believe the financial rules are anti-competitive.

Ex-Everton chief executive Wyness believes his former club could find a shortcut towards solving some of their financial issues should the APT rules be deemed unlawful. The Blues had a £200m stadium naming rights deal in the pipeline with Alisher Usmanov before the oligarch, an associate of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and whose companies sponsored Everton, was sanctioned following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Wyness told Football Insider’s Inside Track podcast: “If City were to win this case, then Everton could fix some problems with a big sponsorship deal. But they’d have to find the right sponsor. When Mr Usmanov was around, it looked like he was the solution. There will be multi-billionaires around if City win this case, and it will be open season. Clubs who can’t connect and get one will be at a severe disadvantage. These rules wanted to level the playing field, and City are trying to damage that.

“But in theory, yes, if City win the case then Everton could find a billionaire sponsor to come in and help them keep spending – but that’s not what I see football as being. We’ve lost sight of the whole thing if it becomes an arms race with money.”