Late last week Everton released an official announcement stating that majority shareowner Farhad Moshiri would be selling his 94.1% ownership stake in the club to US-based multi-club football ownership group 777 Partners.
While the news did not really come as a surprise given how long 777 and before them MSP Holdings have been in and around Everton’s circles discussing a takeover at the club, it was the manner of the delivery which caught many off-guard. The club’s shareholders association and even the manager were not necessarily given a heads-up that the news was about to be made public, and nor was their feedback sought in the matter, nothing new to how the club has been run by chairman Bill Kenwright and his former hand-picked Board members.
Today during his pre-match press conference ahead of a trip to Brentford this weekend, manager Sean Dyche was asked about the meeting he held with 777 co-founder Josh Wander and CEO Don Dransfield, with the pair coming to the Finch Farm training ground earlier in the week.
“It’s all casual at this stage. They made it clear to us who were in the meeting that the deal has got a long way to go to get to its finality.
“Most of it was very casual to be honest. It was just a feel of what I’ve learned in my time here and others were involved in the chat of course, but on the football side of things, a feel of what I’ve learned here, the challenges ahead and stuff like that but it was a very casual meeting.
“At this early stage they were very honest and promoted the thought that it’s still not done and it’s going to take time to get the deal done in the sense of all the fit and proper tests and all that sort of stuff. I think they were more getting a feel of what our thoughts were and what my thoughts were since coming into the club rather than giving us any directives on what they’re planning, it was more absorbing some of the feel of the club and getting a feel of it.”
It was interesting to note that Dyche seemed to emphasise over and over about the relaxed and casual nature of the conversation, as if to point out that no commitments were made either way.
“It was a broad brush sort of thing, it wasn’t the minutiae of it. We were talking of the feel of it, the past meets the present and the future and how to bring it all together and forwards and the challenge that we had, the market and the finances and all the things that have been going on since I’ve been here.
“There’s been lots going on in such a short space but they’re aware of some of that, they do their homework, they understand – not all of it – but they understand the feeling around the club and some of challenges it has faced and faces. I must make clear it was a very casual meeting, nothing heavy, just literally like a chat over a cup of coffee.”
There have been concerns about 777’s eligibility especially with new ownership rules being drafted this season for the Premier League likely to shine a spotlight on what have been broadly described as dubious financial practices by the group as they have pursued purchases of the other clubs in their portfolio, including Genoa, Sevilla, Hertha Berlin, Standard Liege, Melbourne Victory and Red Star.
Dyche appeared convinced by the group and their desire to make the ownership transfer, while acknowledging that there’s a certain amount of built-up tension and animosity towards Moshiri and Kenwright.
“I think their intent is to be here but the regulatory stuff where they’re saying ‘look, there’s a way to go on that side of things.’
“It’s not really my concern. I can’t affect it anyway. The idea is, I’m sure by putting the wheels in motion, I think they’re intent on getting things done but there are all the regulatory issues and regulatory challenges and I don’t know all the details of that, I’m sure it does take a bit of time.
“I think there will probably be a mixed feeling (among supporters) because there were fans who were questioning the last regime heavily, obviously last season and they didn’t want them at the games and stuff. Then there’s a new idea possibly coming in so I think there’s a mixed bag.
“I think fans will be looking at it with ‘which way is it going to swing, which way is it going to turn, are they going to get the deal done and take it on?’ and the noise that would create, hopefully very positive noise but we’ll have to wait and see. At this stage it creates a hullabaloo over kind of nothing at times.
“At the end of the day it’s a business transaction. But as we know in football, these business transactions go into the public domain very quickly.”
The timing of last week’s announcement just before a big game against Arsenal and at the very end of the international break seemed poor, and it’s hard to believe that the players being as flat as they were during the Sunday defeat had nothing to do with that.
Quotes courtesy of Liverpool Echo.