Everton Football Club owner Farhad Moshiri has agreed a deal to sell the storied Premier League club to Miami-based private investment firm 777 Partners — and its supporters are unhappy.
If the deal is successful, 777 Partners would join a growing list of American Premier League club owners that includes the U.S. sports mogul Stanley Kroenke at Arsenal and the Glazer family at Manchester United
Last year a consortium of U.S. investors led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly purchased Chelsea Football Club for 2.5 billion pounds, or $3.1 billion.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but U.K. media reports put the price tag at around 500 million pounds.
777 Partners describes itself as “an alternative investment platform that invests across a number of high-growth attractive verticals with a strong focus on financial services.”
The firm has been aggressively expanding into soccer and completed a majority stake takeover of Germany’s Hertha Berlin earlier this year. Other teams in its portfolio include Belgian club Standard Liege, Italian team Genoa, Brazilian side Vasco da Gama, France’s Red Star FC and Australia’s Melbourne Victory. 777 Partners also a minority stake in Spanish side Sevilla, the 2023 Europa League winners.
But the 777 takeover has already sparked opposition among sections of the Everton fanbase. Everton fan @theesk, who provides analysis of the club’s financial dealings, described the acquisition as “highly undesirable” and questioned whether 777 Partners has the resources to successfully acquire Everton.
“We shouldn’t be wasting time thinking 777 partners provide any of the required solutions, nor even that they will achieve their objective of ownership,” he wrote, in a blog post Friday. “They are an unnecessary distraction to our fight for survival. Moshiri, the board, all of us have to recognize that and focus on short term survival and long term solutions including the right owners – otherwise we will become a large footnote in history.”
Protests against 777 Partners by supporters at Standard Liege and RedStar FC have also grabbed the attention of Everton fans. “Can we have your banner @RedStarFC?” tweeted The Unholy Trinity Everton Podcast this week, with an image of Red Star supporters brandishing a “777 not welcome” banner.
In a statement released Friday, the independent Everton Fan Advisory Board described the takeover deal as “another critical point” in the club’s history “following periods of concern about our performance on and off the pitch and uncertainty about our future.”
“We recognise the news today raises many questions for Evertonians and we have already asked for an urgent meeting with Club and 777 representatives to obtain some clarity on the plans for the development of the Club,” the Fan Advisory Board added.
MarketWatch reached out to 777 Partners with a request for comment on this story, but was directed to the firm’s statement, which says that 777 Partners will not be providing any further comment during the deal’s regulatory review period.
Everton, languishing near the bottom of the Premier League, are currently constructing a 53,000-seat stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock on Liverpool’s waterfront to replace Goodison Park, which has been the club’s home since 1892.
“I have been clear about the need to bring in new investment and complete the financing of our iconic new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, something that I have predominantly financed to date,” Moshiri wrote, in a statement Friday. “The requirement for this has only become more apparent to me as we continue to see rapid changes in the nature of ownership and financing of top football clubs.”
Related: Boeing stock gains after new order for 66 737 MAX jets from 777 Partners
“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 firms, specialist sports investors or state-backed companies and funds,” Moshiri added.
Financial terms of the 777 Partners deal have not been disclosed. “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,” said Josh Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners, in a statement Friday.
“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,” he added.
In its statement, 777 Partners said that it expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter of 2023. The deal remains subject to regulatory approval, including from the Premier League, the Football Association, and the Financial Conduct Authority.
Also See: Manchester United’s stock suffers record selloff after report that sale of club is off
Also See: Messi’s Inter Miami move ‘phenomenal’ and ‘game-changing’ for MLS, say former U.S. soccer stars
One of England’s oldest clubs, Everton was established in 1878 and was a founding member of the Football League in 1888. The club has won England’s top division on nine occasions and has played in the Premier League since its creation in 1992.
Moshiri’s ownership has sparked fan protests in recent seasons amid growing anger at the club’s struggles. Everton has skirted relegation to the Championship in the last two seasons. In May the club clinched survival in dramatic fashion thanks to a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth on the final day of season.
The club has not won any of its four league games this season and currently sits third from bottom of the Premier League.
Also See: How the U.S. women’s soccer team scored pay equity
A force in English football in the 1980s, Everton were crowned champions in 1985 and 1987, and also won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985. The club is currently on the longest trophy drought in its history, with its last trophy being an F.A. Cup win in 1995.