Everton sale to American firm 777 Partners features remarkable performance-related clause

Everton fans leave Goodison Park - Everton sale agreed: American firm 777 Partners to buy club from Farhad Moshiri for over £500m
Everton fans will be delighted to see the back of Farhad Moshiri - Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has agreed to sell the club after agreeing an extraordinary performance related clause raising the stakes in Sean Dyche’s relegation fight.

A deal understood to be worth £500 million was agreed for American investors 777 Partners to purchase Moshiri’s 94.1 per cent stake, but there remains deep uncertainty as to whether a takeover will proceed.

In addition, Telegraph Sport has learned that Moshiri has agreed to staged payments over several years in order to help the club’s financial position. That could see Moshiri reap a bigger dividend if Everton realise their sporting and commercial potential, but also represents significant risk if the team’s toils result in a drop into the Championship.

The arrangement explains why no share price has been made public and the scale of 777’s initial investment is unclear.

Everton face an independent commission hearing on October 25 related to Premier League charges of overspending, which could lead to significant sanctions impacting on their ability to stay up this season. They must also recover from a terrible start in which they have taken one point from four games.

Significant obstacles remain before the deal is fully ratified with the Premier League’s strengthened owners and directors test delaying the sale by at least three months.

The US company has strenuously denied allegations of fraud, offering illegal loans and failing to pay bills totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars in the US.

Everton takeover: Your key questions answered
Everton takeover: Your key questions answered

In response, the company told Telegraph Sport: “777 has always strived to conduct its businesses in line with local laws and regulations. Where it has been suggested otherwise, we will defend our reputation vigorously by all legitimate means.”

The prospective new owners vowed to usher in a new era at Goodison Park.

Manager Sean Dyche will receive backing, certainly initially, with 777 Partners having no immediate plans to change football operations.

Director of Football Kevin Thelwell’s job is also safe for now while the Americans seek to reassure staff and supporters of their immediate and long-term intentions.

A boardroom overhaul is high on the agenda. Chairman Bill Kenwright, who still maintains a two percent stake in the club, will hold talks regarding whether he has any future role once the deal is ratified.

Farhad Moshiri - Everton sale agreed: American firm 777 Partners to buy club from Farhad Moshiri for over £500m
The reign of Farhad Moshiri (right) at Everton has been turbulent - Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Critically, Everton are adamant the £500m stadium construction at Bramley-Moore Dock will continue on its current timetable. They next owners must work with existing partners Rights and Media Funding and MSP Sports Capital. MSP need to iron out where their £100 million arrangement fits into the process if Everton changes hands.

The Americans say they will take a low profile while the necessary Premier League checks are undertaken, but they believe they will convince the authorities and fans that they are the right custodians to move the club forward.

Meetings will be set up with Everton’s fan representative at the appropriate time, according to one source privy to the new owners’ plans.

“Our primary objective is to work with fans and stakeholders to develop the sporting and commercial infrastructure for the men’s and women’s teams that will deliver results for future generations of Everton supporters,” said Josh Wander, Founder and Managing Partner of 777 Partners.

‘The club continue to treat fans with disdain’

The instant response of Everton’s shareholders association was a combination of apprehension regarding 777’s motives for buying the club, and contempt for Moshiri’s handling of the sales process.

“We note the intention of largest shareholder Farhad Moshiri to sell his shares to 777 Partners,” read the shareholders’ statement.

“Receiving only a few minutes’ warning of this proposed change of ownership is disappointing.

“The owner and the club continue to treat shareholders and fans with disdain and we encourage the current and (proposed future) owners to walk their engagement talk immediately - that fans are the most important asset at any football club.”

Everton fans calling for Farhad Moshiri to go - Everton sale agreed: American firm 777 Partners to buy club from Farhad Moshiri for over £500m
Everton fans have been calling for Moshiri to go for some time - Paul Ellis/AFP

Fans’ representatives emphasised the urgent need for potential owners to address concerns now rather than wait for three months.

“The devil will be in the detail and at the moment there is no detail whatsoever,” said Dave Kelly, chair of the EFC fan advisory board.

“We will welcome sitting down with 777 or any potential investor. But at this stage we would say we will judge the actions more than the words. As supporters we have got what we wished for in terms of getting rid of Moshiri and (Bill) Kenwright, but is this the perfect fit?

“This sales process still feels like it is a long way off from where it needs to be.

“Fan engagement has to be at the top of their (777’s ) agenda. Genuinely, I don’t think they will wait for three months to engage with supporters. There is a fan advisory meeting on October 3, so things may become clearer then.”

For Dyche, working amid boardroom upheaval has become the norm since he arrived at Everton. He insisted events off-field will not shift his primary objective on it.

Asked if he had spoken to the prospective new owners, he said: “Not so far. It is their choice. I am more than happy to speak to them, of course. The top end of any business is not relevant to the players, really. The news is out there. I do not see how it should affect the team. What is relevant is every game on a week to week basis.

“I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am trying to win games. You need to win games. That is the reality of what we do.”