By Liam Christopher, Daily Post Correspondent
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is hoping to hold the meeting that will secure £20m of new investment into his club in the next 48 hours. The meeting was due to take place on Monday but boardroom rival Paul Gregg called for a postponement to allow him more time to consider the proposals. It is understood that Kenwright has now received indications from Gregg that he is prepared to allow the meeting to proceed before Friday.
The Daily Post has learned that Kenwright and Everton’s third director, Jon Wood, met lawyers at the theatre impresario’s London offices on Monday after Gregg pulled the plug on the formal meeting, and went through the details of the contract. A Brunei-based fund, the Fortress Sports Fund, is the vehicle for delivering the investment, having been established by Geneva-based financier Chris Samuelson.
It is believed that the investors in this fund have authorised the immediate advance of some of the money for Everton manager David Moyes to spend on vitally-needed new players before the transfer deadline on Tuesday. However, the money will not be forthcoming until the offer has been accepted by the Everton board.
Kenwright revealed he was “burning the midnight oil” working with lawyers and financiers to conclude the deal with the fund, which has been established to invest in a number of sporting initiatives. A source close to the deal told the Daily Post last night that Everton was the main priority of this fund. “If you could see a prospectus for the Fortress Sports Fund, you would see that its first aim is to restore Everton to its former European glory,” he said.
Russian pulp and paper billionaire Boris Zingarevich and his son, Anton, have been distanced from the deal but it remains to be seen just how much involvement they will have if it does go ahead. It is expected that part of the deal, which would see the Fortress Sports Fund acquire a 40% stake in Everton, would see Samuelson and another fund representative take places on the Everton board. Kenwright is set to remain as chairman.
The proposed cash injection and the restructuring it would involve would still have to be cleared by an extraordinary general meeting, probably held next month. But that would not delay the transfer funds being made available. Meanwhile, Everton’s rejection of a £20m bid from Newcastle United for troubled young England star Wayne Rooney is expected to provoke a bidding war before the deadline, even though Rooney is not fully fit and would be unlikely to pass a medical yet.
If Manchester United, Real Madrid or Chelsea are drawn into the battle for Rooney, the price could rise to around the £30m Everton want. Such a bid would be virtually impossible for the club to turn down.
What happens next? A marketing consultant’s view
Marketing expert Nick Hawkins says Everton’s continuing problems could seriously damage the club’s brand. But he believes the club’s proud history and massive fan base could save it from the worst impact of its troubles. Mr Hawkins, senior lecturer in marketing at Liverpool John Moores University, is a lifelong Everton supporter. He said: “At Goodison, every game has 35,000 to 40,000 supporters. “They have got dedicated fans who love the club and a proud heritage and history. It is that which they should use to get themselves through.”
What happens next? A financial expert’s view
By Bill Gleeson, Business Editor
The golden scenario for Everton’s finances would be to get both the £20m from the overseas investors that Bill Kenwright is trying to line up and another £30m from the sale of Wayne Rooney – a massive injection of £50m. The worst case scenario is that neither of these things come to pass and Everton struggle to survive the first half of the season without going into administration.
James Dow, a corporate finance adviser at Dow Schofield Watts who has previously advised Everton, Barcelona and Ajax, said: “The fairy tale scenario is the Russians are for real and Rooney plays brilliantly and Everton get into Europe. That would add a significant new source of income next year.
“The worst case is Rooney goes on a free, the Russians get cold feet and poor performance on the pitch means less revenue from television and gates. As soon as you look like you’ll be relegated, clubs must factor in the fact that they will have £10m less next year. ”
Any delay in selling Rooney ahead of the imminent transfer deadline could diminish his sale value as his current contract gets closer to expiry. Mr Dow, himself an Evertonian, added: “The bottom line is Everton can’t afford relegation. “Since Kenwright and Gregg took over, they have overseen £30m going out of the club and neither of them have put any money in the club.
“The average season ticket holder at Everton has put more money into the club than the major shareholders.”
What happens next? A fan’s view
By Mark O’brien
The football as a roller coaster metaphor often gets a bit of a hammering. It’s just that it happens to be so apt, especially where the Toffees are concerned.
However, especially of late, Everton Football Club isn’t so much a thrilling, undulating ride at Alton Towers as a rickety deathtrap operated by heavily tattooed travelling folk. It clatters along making all sorts of troubling noises and occasionally big bits fall off, much to the alarm of the nauseous punters.
Things were really starting look up at the weekend too. Fresh from a hard-fought victory at Selhurst Park we had news of a Russian paper tsar ready and willing to invest his pulp pennies in our Grand Old Team. On Sunday we all then tutted and had a laugh at the tales of Pot Noodle, PVC and prostitution in the tabloids before turning to the back pages to find out just who David Moyes would be signing in the coming week. And now what? All of a sudden we’re told that Wayne Rooney apparently wants away, the manager might follow him if the player’s sold for less than £30m and confusion surrounds the identities of the investors in the Fortress Sport Fund, with the Russians distancing themselves from the whole deal.
Which leaves us where?
It’s difficult to say, as the situation would best be described as “fluid”, but for a start, if Rooney genuinely wants away then he should be sold as soon as possible. How we all long to see the kid who loves Everton like we do, strutting his stuff again and making us proud, but you have to wonder whether that kid exists any more after the events in Portugal this summer.
And Everton must hold out for the fee that the manager believes is right, for the obvious financial reasons, and because the thought of Moyes leaving on a point of principle just doesn’t bear thinking about.