Everton are edging closer to a takeover, as negotiations with American investors John Jay Moores and Charles Noell near completion.
The pair are finalising financial checks on the club, which began in December, and are understood to be ready to buy the club from current chairman Bill Kenwright for £200 million.
Moores and Noell have significant experience in sport. Moores is the owner of baseball side San Diego Padres, with Noell the franchise’s vice-charman. Ironically, Moores bought the Padres from current Liverpool chairman Tom Werner for $80m in 1994.
“A takeover is about having the right custodian having the right understanding about getting involved in our football club.”
For the past six weeks, the Americans have undergone a financial due diligence check on Everton’s financial records. They’ve also been discussing a takeover with Kenwright and major Everton shareholders Robert Earl and Jon Woods.
It’s not yet known where a takeover would leave Everton manager Roberto Martinez. His position is said to have been under threat, with fans unhappy at the club languishing in mid-table despite possessing talent such as Ross Barkley and John Stones.
West End theatre producer Kenwright has long spoken of his desire to sell Everton, but has also insisted that he wants to leave the club in safe hands with its future owners.
When Moores and Noell were first linked with Everton in December, Martinez told The Liverpool Echo: “Any takeover is not a financial deal on its own.
“It’s more about having the right custodian having the right understanding about getting involved in our football club.”
Moores and Noell would be the latest American owners in the Premier League. Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace are all fully or partly owned by Americans.
The club itself have declined to specifically comment on the takeover speculation. But Chief Executive Robert Elstone said at Everton’s annual AGM in November: “There has never been more people interested in investing in Everton, and the chairman is confident investment will be secured in the near future.”
Elstone also made clear that plans to move the club from Goodison Park to a new stadium in Walton Hall Park were not reliant on outside investment. The move instead relies on securing partnership funding from Liverpool City Council.
The Chief Executive explained: “We are not working on the new stadium on the premise that we are about to secure new investment or need new investment.”