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‘Everton still in discussions with 777 over a takeover’

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Scrutiny ramps up on US firm as investor plunging into legal and financial turmoil

London, May 14: Everton remains in negotiations with Miami-based 777 Partners over a takeover of the club, the English Premier League chief executive said on Tuesday, despite the investor plunging into legal and financial turmoil.
777 reached an agreement with Everton in September to buy out the 94.1% stake of the club majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri. The deal was subject to the approval of English football authorities, and it has yet to be finalised by the Premier League eight months later.
The prospective sale has been thrown into doubt because 777 is facing a $600 million fraud lawsuit in a federal court in New York and its Australian airline is grounded. It has raised concerns about the group’s suitability as a football club owner and how it could pass the Premier League owners and directors test.
While speaking at a parliamentary committee meeting of the British government, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters was asked about the competition’s role in overseeing the potential deal.
“I want to be clear what the Premier League’s role in this is, as regulator – it’s to perform a test, it is not to decide who the current owner wants to sell his club to,” Masters said.
“That is his decision. At the moment, he wants to continue to have discussions with 777 about it.”
Masters was attending the committee meeting to discuss the proposed Football Governance Bill that would establish an independent football regulator, charged with ensuring the financial sustainability of clubs and leagues in England. Part of the regulator’s remit would be to strengthen tests over who can own a team.
It was put to Masters by a lawmaker that the case involving 777 and Everton wasn’t showing the league governing by “objectivity and certainty,” and might be one where a regulator would have already rejected any deal.
“The Premier League has made it very clear the conditions that have to be met by 777 if it wishes to become owner of Everton,” Masters said. “At the moment, because the takeover has not been confirmed, I’ll leave it to the committee to make its own conclusions for where we are with that.”
Just last week, Standard Liege – a Belgian team among the European clubs owned by 777 – was unable to play a league game because protesting fans blocked the team bus from reaching the stadium.
Fans of Standard have stepped up protests against 777, with the club under another temporary transfer embargo.
777’s other clubs include Genoa in Italy’s Serie A, Hertha Berlin in Germany’s second division and Vasco da Gama in Brazil.
Josimar, a Norwegian football magazine that has published extensively on 777’s issues this season, has reported that company owners Josh Wander and Steven Pasko have left the board of directors of its football investment division. (AP)

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