English soccer club Everton to be bought by American investment firm 777 Partners
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — American investors just can’t seem to get enough of the Premier League.
Everton will be the latest storied English soccer team to come under U.S. ownership after Miami-based private investment firm 777 Partners reached a deal to buy out majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
“We are truly humbled by the opportunity to become part of the Everton family as custodians of the club, and consider it a privilege to be able to build on its proud heritage and values,” Josh Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners, said in a statement Friday.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are all under American ownership, with varied degrees of success. Others on the list from the 20-team division are Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Burnley and Bournemouth.
Even Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City has an American minority owner, with California-based private equity firm Silverlake holding an 18% stake.
American interest in the Premier League was highlighted by the sale of Chelsea last year when Todd Boelhy and Clearlake Capital fought off a number of U.S.-based competitors to buy the two-time Champions League winner.
Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, New York Jets co-owner Woody Johnson and a consortium that included now Washington Commanders co-owner Josh Harris were all trying to buy the London club, which was eventually sold for 2.5 billion pounds ($3 billion).
However, there has not been the same level of interest in Man United after its owners, the Glazer family, put the club on the market last November. The only public bids for United have come from Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe — with U.S. interest in the 20-time English champion perhaps cooled by the Glazers’ reported asking price of around $6 billion.
The Premier League’s global broadcasting revenue, worth billions of dollars, as well as packed stadiums, makes it an attractive prospect to investors.
Everton did not disclose how much 777 Partners will pay for its 94.1-percent stake in the club and any sale will need to be approved by the league. The transaction is due to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, 777 Partners said.
Everton fans will hope a change of ownership will bring about a change of fortune after years of upheaval and disappointment.
Everton was a founding member of the English Football League in 1888 and Premier League in 1992. It has won nine league championships, five FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup, but has not won a major trophy since the FA Cup in 1995.
Moshiri bought an initial 49.9% stake in the club in 2016 but Everton has faced repeated battles to stave off relegation since then, despite a transfer spend of about $800 million and a revolving door of coaching hires.
Frank Lampard became the sixth manager fired under Moshiri when the former Chelsea great was let go last season and replaced by Sean Dyche.
Everton avoided relegation on the final day of the season, keeping the team from falling out of the top division for the first time since 1951.
The team has lost three and drawn one of its four league games so far this season, which points to another year of struggle.
Moshiri said his decision to sell was because of “rapid changes in the nature of ownership and financing of top football clubs.”
“The last two transfer windows have shown that the days of an owner/benefactor are seemingly out of reach for most and the biggest clubs are now typically owned by well-resourced PE (private equity) firms, specialist sports investors or state backed companies and funds,” he said.
Everton had been sponsored by companies belonging to Moshiri’s long-time business partner, Russian metal tycoon Alisher Usmanov. The club said last year that it had suspended agreements with his companies, USM, Megafon and Yota. Usmanov had been sanctioned by the European Union in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Moshiri said the sale would also secure financing to complete a 52,888 capacity stadium that is currently under construction.
“Going forward, Everton will play in a stadium that will be the envy of the Premier League and beyond,” Moshiri said.
777 Partners already has stakes in a number of soccer teams through its 777 Football Group, which Everton will become part of.
The firm completed a majority stake takeover of Hertha Berlin in March. Its other clubs include Europa League champion Sevilla, Italian club Genoa, Brazilian team Vasco de Gama, Belgian club Standard Liege, French team Red Star FC and Australian team Melbourne Victory.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
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