Everton ownership ‘not for Premier League to decide’

The future ownership of Everton will be decided by current owner Farhad Moshiri and not by the Premier League, says the English top flight’s chief executive Richard Masters.

777 Partners agreed to buy Moshiri’s 94% stake in September but there is increasing uncertainty over the takeover amid concerning developments around the Miami-based firm.

Appearing in front of a select committee on Parliament’s Football Governance Bill on Tuesday, Masters was asked why he had not rejected 777’s takeover.

“The Premier League’s role in this, as regulator, is to perform the test,” said Masters. 

“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.”

Moshiri has extended the sales and purchase agreement – a legally binding contract between a buyer and seller – to the end of this month, but 777 had already been working towards that deadline to try to get the deal done.

Meanwhile, Everton’s fan advisory board have been told by the club that plans are in place to “progress alternative scenarios” should the takeover by 777 not go through.

Last week, the US firm engaged finance restructuring experts, casting further doubts over its ability to complete the takeover.

Moshiri has held talks with 777 as he looks for clarity regarding the situation, and whether it has the cash available to pay off a £158m loan owed to MSP Sports Capital.

And eight months on from agreeing to buy the club, 777 continues to undergo scrutiny from the Premier League as to whether it passes the Owners’ and Directors’ Test.

Last week, Everton’s Fan Advisory Board called for the Premier League to dismiss 777 Partners’ takeover bid and to “allow discussions with more suitable owners” to take place.

As well as paying off the loan to MSP, 777 needs to convert into equity the loans it has provided to Everton, which currently total over £200m.

The firm has committed money for day-to-day operational costs until August, while about £100m in funding is required for the completion of the club’s new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock.

Masters added: “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.”

Meanwhile, the influential European Clubs’ Association will encourage 777 co-owner Josh Wander to stand down from his board position with the organisation.

Wander was elected to the ECA Board in September because of his position at another of 777’s clubs, Standard Liege in Belgium.

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