A Russian billionaire seeks to invest in a club so that he can turn around their fortunes. It’s a tale as old as... well, how long have Chelsea actually mattered? A tale as old as that.
Alisher Usmanov is reportedly the 8th richest Russian businessman on the planet, he recently sold out his shares at Arsenal, and he appreciates the sport enough that he is looking for a new club to pump his billions into. His longtime personal and business relationship with Everton owner Farhad Moshiri makes the Toffees a prime candidate.
In comments published by Bloomberg, Usmanov had the following to say about the blue half of Mersey:
“We are friends with Farhad Moshiri, If he needs the support, I am happy to help. Should there be a proposal or a possibility to invest in them with good potential returns, I would consider the deal.
“When I bought the stake in Arsenal I believed that football brands would be able to generate profit, this is happening now.”
Usmanov’s USM Holdings already sponsor Everton’s training facilities at Finch Farm, and with a new stadium being built this would seem like an opportune time commercially for investment in the Everton brand. The businessman’s comments certainly seem very encouraging.
The Blues are in the process of designing their new home for another century at the Bramley-Moore docks, with estimates saying costs could be about £500m. Of that amount, £280m will be fronted by the Liverpool City Council on a 25-year loan basis, and the club will then need £220m upfront. The 55-acre Halewood training ground bears the USM name as part of a £75m deal, about as third of that amount.
The other clubs mentioned in the article are AS Roma, AC Milan, and Bayern Munich, but one can see mitigating factors in each. Roma is owned by Bostonian James Pallotta who believes he’s already riding a wave to success, Bayern Munich would simply not be a buy low-sell high situation because they’re already such a prominent brand (and Germany’s 50+1 rule would limit Usmanov’s potential investment given the brands like Adidas who already have a piece of Bayern) and Milan has financial troubles they need to sort out before their current owners are willing to move them. None of the clubs mentioned above have the benefit of playing in the English Premier League, the most marketable league on earth.
This story has been percolating for a long time. Formal Usmanov investment in Everton Football Club has seemed nearly inevitable since Farhad Moshiri first arrived on the scene, and it would be great to see that finally go through.