Moshiri's Everton move trumps US consortium

LONDON • Everton's decade-long search for new investment has borne fruit with British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri set to take a 49.9 per cent stake, subject to Premier League approval.

Everton were in talks over a £200 million (S$390 million) sale of the club to an American consortium led by former San Diego Padres owner John Jay Moores and fellow entrepreneur Charles Noell.

However, Moshiri appears to have stolen a march on them.

His close relationship with Everton's chairman Bill Kenwright and willingness to allow the 70-year-old to remain in a position of power at the club, at least in the near term, was a factor in clinching the deal, according to British media.

"After an exhaustive search, I believe we have found the perfect partner to take the club forward," Kenwright said on Everton's official website on Saturday.

Kenwright, a leading film and theatre producer, has been looking for major investment to take the club forward for more than a decade, having bought a controlling stake in Everton from Peter Johnson for £20 million in 1999.

"I have got to know Farhad well over the last 18 months and his football knowledge, financial wherewithal and True Blue spirit have convinced me that he is the right man to support Everton," added Kenwright.

Moshiri has promised new investment in the club, who have won the English title nine times and the FA Cup on five occasions, albeit not since 1995 when they last lifted a major trophy.

Forbes estimates Moshiri's personal wealth at about £1.3 billion and that will have increased after he sold his Arsenal shares on Friday to Red and White Holdings partner Alisher Usmanov, the London club's second-largest shareholder.

"I am delighted to take this opportunity to become a shareholder in Everton, with its rich heritage as one of Europe's leading football clubs," the 60-year-old said in the statement on the club website.

"There has never been a more level playing field in the Premier League than now," he added, with Everton in 12th place, three places and three points behind local rivals Liverpool.

New funds are expected to help manager Roberto Martinez strengthen his first-team squad.

There are also plans to build a new stadium, which is likely to result in Everton moving out of Goodison Park.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 29, 2016, with the headline 'Moshiri's Everton move trumps US consortium'. Print Edition | Subscribe