Everton Football Club are in talks to secure new funding after suspending sponsorships with companies linked to sanctioned Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The move comes as Everton and Farhad Moshiri, the Premier League club’s Anglo-Iranian majority shareholder, grapple with poor performance on the pitch and the impact of sanctions on his business.
Options being explored by the Liverpool club include raising equity, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Another person said Everton had held talks about raising the debt.
But two people close to Moshiri and the club said the only funding being sought was for Everton’s new £500million waterfront stadium, talks that precede the unraveling of links with Usmanov. A separate person with knowledge of the stadium has confirmed that the club are also exploring funding for the project.
Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine exposed the dependence of Everton and London rival Chelsea, owned by Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, on wealthy Russians accused of being close to the Kremlin and now subject to sanctions . It also raised deeper questions about the ownership of Premier League clubs.
Everton severed ties with USM Holdings and other companies linked or owned by Usmanov, an Uzbekistan-born Russian billionaire who has been sanctioned by the EU, UK and US. Moshiri is no longer named on USM’s website, having previously been identified as chairman and shareholder.
In addition to multimillion-pound sponsorships, USM in 2020 acquired an option for the naming rights to Everton’s planned Bramley-Moore Dock stadium, in a deal worth £30million. pounds for the club.
Moshiri, who owns more than 94% of Premier League shares, took a majority stake in Everton in 2018, having first invested in the club two years earlier. He previously invested in London rivals Arsenal alongside Usmanov. Stan Kroenke, the American sports mogul, now owns Arsenal.
During the 2019-20 season, Moshiri injected nearly £50million in interest-free loans into Everton, according to his accounts, taking the total outstanding amount to £348million at the end of that period. In January this year, Moshiri converted a £100m loan to the club into shares.
The club recorded £250million in net losses in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
Everton’s latest annual accounts are due to be published by the end of the month and cover the period in which clubs were forced to stage matches in empty stadiums due to the pandemic, effectively wiping out ticket revenue .
The club faces another potential blow to its finances due to relegation. Everton sit 17th out of 20 clubs in the standings, putting the team at risk of being demoted to the Championship, the second tier of English football.
Four people familiar with the funding talks warned that relegation was a major concern for potential investors, given that the club would no longer share in the more than £10bn in broadcast revenue generated by the Premier League.
A senior manager at a top rival has said current Everton management “would struggle” to convince investors they are “the right people” to run the club.
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