While the precise details of Farhad Moshiri’s purchase of almost half of Everton FC, together with his future plans for the club, are not yet known, Roberto Martinez looks set to be afforded more leeway in terms of player recruitment and retention following the Monaco-based businessman’s arrival.
That is the inference from both the manager’s comments and media reports in the national media following Martinez’s press conference ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Aston Villa.
Moshiri, born in Iran but the holder of dual British citizenship and a long-time associate of Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, has agreed buy a 49.9% stake in Everton just days after offloading his 15% holding in rivals Arsenal in order to channel his footballing ambitions towards Goodison Park.
While question marks have been raised over why Moshiri has stopped short of taking a controlling interest in the club, the indications are that his initial investment will be just that – a first step towards acquiring up to 75% of the available shares and the Mail’s Matt Lawton (who first broke the news late on Friday night that a Middle Eastern buyer could be unveiled within days) suggests that “a mechanism” for such an eventuality already exists within the framework of the agreement.
Compared to The Guardian’s Andy Hunter, Lawton strikes a more circumspect tone regarding Moshiri’s imminent investment, which should be ratified by the Premier League this week, reporting that, amid "a curious degree of secrecy”, the Everton hierarchy have yet to elaborate on the brief statement issued on evertonfc.com on Saturday afternoon and how the share structure at the club will change as a result.
Planet Hollywood mogul Robert Earl is believed to have sold his entire 23% stake in Everton and is not expected to remain on the board of directors, while Bill Kenwright and Jon Woods will see their holdings reduced from 26% and 19% respectively. That would give Moshiri control among the club’s major shareholders but would leave the safety valve for now of all of the remaining shareholders being able to out-vote him if the need arises.
That could well have been a stipulation insisted upon by Kenwright to allow Moshiri to run the club alongside him on an interim basis before, presumably, the Chairman stepped back by selling him more of his shares at a later date. That is certainly indicated by Hunter in his latest piece where he writes that, "Moshiri has an agreement to become majority shareholder."
Regardless, the 60-year-old’s backing will likely boost immediately Everton’s spending power in the transfer market and, in concert with the booming Premier League broadcast revenue, see the club’s hitherto rigid wage structure become a lot more malleable in order to fend off attempts by other clubs to prise away the likes of Romelu Lukaku, John Stones and Ross Barkley by matching the compensation on offer elsewhere.
“Of course it will help us keep our best players,” MartĂnez said in the print media part of his “presser” at Finch Farm this afternoon. “In our structure you’re always going to have some sort of limitations from a financial point of view. That’s where we are as a football club. Now, with a new investor this is a new beginning, it’s a new start for Everton. If we’re here, now we can go here [points up] internally in terms of budgets, in terms of facilities, in terms of wage bill. The new TV deal helps you up to a point. What we’re talking about here is a completely different approach.”
The Catalan, who has held discussions with Moshiri already, appears to be realistic about being able to keep the entirety of his squad together, particularly when covetous eyes from clubs better placed to offer Champions League football start looking their way in the summer.
He makes no bones about the fact that the players have to want to stay at Goodison Park but stresses that it will no longer be because of financial considerations.
“We need to create a football club that the player wants to be part of,” he explained. “It is no good us saying: ‘Yes, we will keep such and such.’ If they don’t want to stay it will be the wrong investment. But if ‘such and such’ want to stay, can we make them stay? The answer now is yes. It is as simple as that.
"Every case is an individual case. Ross Barkley, for example, is an Evertonian. He can get at Everton anything he could get at another club. And it is his club. So that’s that answer. Everyone else, we don’t know what their aims are and what they want to do but we will never lose a player now because we are unable to give him what he deserves, put it that way.”