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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Everton urged to end ‘damaging’ takeover saga as 777’s troubles mount

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The Everton Shareholders’ Association has called on Farhad Moshiri to end the “farce” of the drawn-out takeover saga at Goodison Park and to recognise that 777 Partners are not fit owners of the Merseyside club.

The organisation, who represent more than 900 minor shareholders in Everton, accused Moshiri and the Premier League of disrespecting the club and urged both to end a “damaging process” immediately.

Moshiri agreed in September to sell his 94.1 per cent stake to 777, a Miami-based investment fund who own or have stakes in a portfolio of other clubs including Standard Liege, Genoa, Hertha Berlin, Red Star and Vasco da Gama.

777 have been funding Everton, with loans of around £200m to enable the Premier League club to build their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

However, the company, founded by Josh Wander and Steve Pasko, have had a host of other financial and legal difficulties. Last week Bonza, an Australian budget airline owned by 777, collapsed into administration.

On Friday, 777 and Wander were accused of fraud in a lawsuit filed in New York by two London asset management companies, Leadenhall Capital Partners and Leadenhall Life Insurance Linked Investment Funds.

They alleged 777 double pledged assets or pledged assets that do not exist as collateral to borrow money, said they are owned $600m by 777 and said 777 also face 16 other lawsuits for debts amounting to $130m.

In Belgium, the former owners of Standard Liege have reportedly demanded the seizure of assets because of unpaid debts, while it is claimed that the club’s players have not been paid.

The Premier League have made a series of demands to 777 before allowing the takeover to proceed, including repaying a £158m loan that Moshiri took out with MSP Sports Capital and two businessmen, Andy Bell and George Downing, and depositing a further £60m in an escrow account. 777 were unable to repay the £158m loan by the initial deadline and an extension of a few weeks was agreed.

The construction of Everton’s new football stadium comes at a critical time (Getty Images)

And the ESA, which was founded in 1938, said in a statement: “We are the oldest Shareholders’ Association in the world and are dismayed by the lack of respect being shown to our football club by the largest shareholder Farhad Moshiri and the Premier League during what seems a never-ending change of ownership process.

“We have observed with concern and frustration as it became increasingly clear that a fit-for-purpose process cannot possibly take his long as the Premier League continues to demonstrate their inability to regulate.

“In the absence of the Premier League making a timely decision, we insist that the Everton board, and Farhad Moshiri in particular, stop this damaging process now and recognise that 777 Partners are not at this time fit-and-proper prospective owners of Everton Football Club.

“The powers-that-be are being disrespectful to our fellow shareholders, our fantastic worldwide fanbase and football as a whole by continuing to allow this face to continue. We demand and decision and we demand it now.”

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