Football: US investment firm MSP Sports eyes stake in struggling Everton

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri (second from left) and chairman Bill Kenwright (right) have faced strong criticism from the club's supporters. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK – US investment firm MSP Sports Capital is considering a potential stake in English Premier League side Everton, people with knowledge of the matter said. 

MSP has held preliminary discussions with the Merseyside club, which is controlled by British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Everton, who are building a new 53,000 capacity stadium in Liverpool, are in danger of dropping out of the lucrative Premier League and putting a 69-year stay in the top flight at risk.

The team are 19th in the standings, have just sacked Frank Lampard and are seeking a new manager to rescue them from relegation.

A transaction would add to a string of global deals by MSP, which agreed in October to buy ESPN’s majority holding in the X Games extreme sports competition. It also has stakes in McLaren Racing and several European football clubs, including G.D. Estoril Praia in Portugal and Spain’s AD Alcorcon. 

MSP was founded by former sports agent Jeff Moorad and businessman Jahm Najafi. The latter is a minority investor in the Phoenix Suns, a National Basketball Association team.

Deliberations are at an early stage, and there is no certainty they will lead to a deal, the sources said. The club could also attract interest from other investors but representatives for MSP, Everton and Moshiri declined to comment. 

Moshiri has invested heavily in the team – Everton’s losses over the last three years amount to £372 million (S$604 million) – since buying control in 2016.

But his efforts have not been rewarded on the pitch. The Toffees have not won a major trophy since winning the FA Cup in 1995.

He recently said in an interview with the chair of the team’s fan advisory board that he has been talking to quality investors who can “bridge a gap on the stadium” and help bring in more talent.

A lot of specialist sport investors have a “pool of knowledge” that can be secured for Everton, Moshiri said in a video posted on the team’s website this week. 

“We are close to having a deal done,” he said. “It’s not selling the club at all. It’s just bringing more expertise in terms of global sponsorship, in terms of commercial development.”

Everton’s next match is on Feb 4 when they host Premier League leaders Arsenal. BLOOMBERG, AFP

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