This weekend was the most positive I can recall as an Evertonian, and that was without kicking a ball in anger.
Finally, the ten-year search for investment is over, and Everton can move forward with a billionaire sitting on the board and making decisions. This story has been brewing for the past few months, yet I haven’t put anything up on this blog because I haven’t got anything new to add except my opinion.
To recap for those who haven’t followed it, Everton were in talks with a couple of Americans, a Chinese consortium and there were rumours of Indian and Thai involvement. Yet none of those were the path we chose.
Instead, 60-year-old Iranian Farhad Moshiri has bought, subject to Premier League ratification, a 49.9% stake in Everton. Bill Kenwright will seemingly remain as chairman. That percentage will be crucial, as Kenwright and co can outvote Moshiri should he make a decision that is unpopular.
For Moshiri, it’s a start – toes in the water, tests to see how the club goes under his investment, while still having the ability to buy more stakes and assume complete control. You have to assume that’s his end game, even the most naïve of Everton fans would have to see that he’s in this to gain full control eventually, not be a puppet to Kenwright and friends.
Moshiri used to own 15% of Arsenal. He sold that to his friend, Alisher Usmanov, in order to buy into Everton. As part of a fantastic series of coverage on the event, the Liverpool Echo wrote:
The Arsenal supporters who met with the Iranian found him to be very business-like but his enthusiasm to be more involved with the running of the club – and investing in it – was clear.
They were left with the distinct impression that he viewed his role at a Premier League football club as hands-on and not one where he would be happy to just sit on his investment.
The signs are positive. Here is a man with money (his estimated worth is £1.3bn – not filthy rich, but better off than Liverpool’s owners for example), and Premier League experience. He genuinely seems to want to run a football club, without debt and with potential. While the without debt part will be basically impossible, what he can bring is the promise of a better future.
I’m happier with Moshiri behind Kenwright than a couple of American businessmen. American owners, being very stereotypical here, haven’t worked for mid-table sides in the past and there’s no evidence to suggest they would now.
I’ve always been on the fence about investment. I would hate for my club to lose the principles on which it is built. I would hate to lose history at a stab at an uncertain future, and I would hate to turn out like Blackpool or Blackburn. We all want a Chelsea or a City but the reality is, they are few and far between.
Kenwright has conducted the search in the right way, which is something I’ve said from the start. He’s looked for someone who can take Everton forward but who cares about running the club the right way. There were worries he’d try to hold on to power forever, but thankfully they have been quashed now.
Over the years, I’ve come to see that investment is vital. While I’m not afraid to see our club remain in mid table, not challenging for honours but not getting relegated either, the reality is that even that wouldn’t last forever.
You need to take opportunities to move up the league, and with the influx of TV money and success of Leicester and Tottenham this year, the next few years may well be the ones where a new superpower can enter the Premier League. Moshiri’s money probably won’t allow us to win titles, but it can certainly put us in a more attractive position. For example, Champions League is now a realistic aim.
Everton didn’t take to the field this weekend. We were meant to play Liverpool, who instead took part in a cup final. A cup final that, realistically, we could have appeared at as well. The semi-final loss to City was a perfect example of how frustrating the Kenwright years have been. Good enough to lead the tie for 3/4s of it, not good enough to finish it off.
Hopefully, that frustration is the last we see for a while. Although, in true Everton style, I guarantee we will lose to Aston Villa later.