The curious case of Farhad Moshiri, Alisher Usmanov and new money at Everton

Wednesday 25 January 2017  72 Comments  [Jump to last]
New money at Everton and the questions it raises

David Conn is curious about the links between USM's sponsorship of Finch Farm and the involvement of Arsenal's Alisher Usmanov.

David Conn, in his blog for The Guardian, writes about Uzbek-Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who has a stake in Arsenal. He is said not to be involved at Everton despite the heavy investment by USM, of which owns 48%, in Finch Farm has raised questions.

» Read the full article at The Guardian

Reader Comments (72)

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John Keating
1 Posted 25/01/2017 at 14:58:53
If he's correct and USM are sponsoring Finch Farm for £6 million a year for 5 years we've definitely scored !
Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 25/01/2017 at 15:10:54
The title says it all, Patrick, I think we're all curious mate?
Dermot Byrne
3 Posted 25/01/2017 at 15:14:55
We are now the Syrian president!
Chris Williams
4 Posted 25/01/2017 at 15:19:38
Yup and Bill still doing the transfers!
Tony Hill
5 Posted 25/01/2017 at 15:31:35
Says nothing new.
Alan J Thompson
6 Posted 25/01/2017 at 15:40:52
Does anyone know if this is just a way of side stepping the Financial Fair Play rules?
Adam Luszniak
7 Posted 25/01/2017 at 16:06:26
Alan I'd expect that's part of it. FFP means we can only spend money we've made through commercial investments, plus what we spent last year plus an additional 7m year on year as far as I understand.

Sponsorship deals like this, plus Moshiri's interest free loans are designed to increase our commercial revenue.
Winston Williamson
8 Posted 25/01/2017 at 16:18:04
Don't seem to remember The Guardian running similiar stories about other club's owners operating in this manner?

Along come EFC with some hope for the future and The Guardian decide to publish a negatively spun (not all negatively spun, but it implies dodgery in the financial sponsorship of FF) article.

Stoke FC did something similiar (referenced in this article), but The Guardian did not feel the need to publish an article with the onus on their financial make-up!

Yes, I sound paranoid. I'm aware of this, but I cannot shift the feeling we are currently ruffling a few rednoses sat in newsrooms across the country!

Chris Williams
9 Posted 25/01/2017 at 16:46:41
Winston, David Conn has written many such pieces in the Guardian over the years about many clubs and their ownerships etc. Mostly the dodgy ones it must be said.

I had always hoped he would have a look at the Philip Green connection .

I take your point about RS editors though, and hope everything is above board.

Colin Glassar
10 Posted 25/01/2017 at 16:48:15
So it has started. Once Conn starts snooping around it usually means bad news. I'm positive their Top 6 clubs will be aiding him in his "investigation" especially our beloved neighbours.
Andrew Clare
11 Posted 25/01/2017 at 16:53:52
I know it's all speculation put together to make some kind of news item but I hope they got the new stadium capacity wrong. I'm hoping for a 60,000 capacity Stadium not 50,000 as that would be very short sighted.

I think there is a lot of jealousy out there because many know that Everton with the right backing and the right stadium will be a big threat to the club's 'ruling the roost' at the moment.

Colin Glassar
12 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:00:45
To be fair Andrew, the majority of football journos are die-hard RS, Man Utd or Arsenal fans. They still look down their noses at the likes of Man City, Chelsea (to a degree) and Spurs.

As for us, they look like they've stepped on something nasty when they mention Everton.

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:02:59
Colin, if there is anything in this, then I'm sure the man who owns 67% of the shares at Arsenal, might just have something to do with the press getting involved?
Steve Hogan
14 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:05:11
Mischief making at it's finest, disappointing by a newspaper I usually respect.

The journalist hasn't actually been able to 'uncover' any hard facts or malpractice, so he threw in plenty of innuendo for good measure.

Still why let the truth get in the way of a good story?

Chris Williams
15 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:08:05
Colin to be fair to Conn he usually does his homework and nails it once he publishes articles. It will be interesting if he follows this up, although there is nothing we didn't know about in this piece.

The worry is how these sort of things get spun by the usual suspects in the red tops, where the gobshites lurk.

The loan we seemingly took out again, despite Moshiri clearing the debts is a concern possibly, although clubs like West Ham have similar structures in place.

Brent Stephens
16 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:12:32
Winston #8 "Don't seem to remember The Guardian running similiar stories about other club's owners operating in this manner?"

To jog your memory...

Foreign ownership of English football clubs may chip away at game's core

Twenty-eight English clubs are now owned overseas, increasing the risk of tax avoidance

Colin Glassar
17 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:20:08
He is a serious Journo,Chris, and has done some good reporting over the years. My concern is that the scumbag media, like The Sun, latch onto it and start giving us an even worse press.
Gary Edwards
18 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:36:02
Chris (4) .. the Telegraph have published an "investigative piece" that "sheds light on Everton's inner workings" confirming that Kenwright is still heavily involved in transfers. Not that I thought otherwise but to read such gives me a sickening feeling.
Jack Convery
19 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:39:57
Is this the same guy who ran the piece about Sir Peter Green and a BMW dealership in Ireland earlier this month?
Chris Williams
20 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:40:38
Gary, I think it's the same article by David Conn in The Guardian.

It does maybe shed light on the seeming lack of progress on the forward signings we, and probably Koeman might have expected.
Hopefully Moshiri is taking notice. Déjà vu all over again!

John Raftery
21 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:47:37
We can be assured this will run and run in the gutter media but as long as Usmanov does not have a controlling interest at either Arsenal or USM and Moshiri does not have a controlling interest at Everton, I think it will be difficult for external authorities to prove a conflict of interest.

More worrying is the possible linkage of a new stadium with a Commonwealth Games bid. An athletics stadium, albeit one capable of being converted to football, simply will not cut it wherever it is located. I also agree with those who say a 50,000 capacity will be short sighted.

Chris Williams
22 Posted 25/01/2017 at 17:58:43
Colin, who is that Arsenal-supporting prick in the Star?

If anyone picks it up, it might be him.

Even if he doesn't,he's still a gobshite!

Steavey Buckley
23 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:11:45
I wonder if David Conn wrote about his football team, Man City, who also had investigations into naming rights? Or are they excluded?
Brent Stephens
25 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:17:57
Steavey #23 "I wonder if David Conn wrote about his football team, Man City, who also had investigations into naming rights? Or are they excluded?"

Chris Leyland
26 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:18:26
The article tells us nothing on top of what was already widely known about this deal. And as for 'Financial Fair Play' rules, they are anything but about fair play as they are designed to protect the already monied clubs and to stop anyone else breaking into their Champion's League cartel.
Iain Johnston
28 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:30:11
Usmanov is not a board member nor is he the majority shareholder at the Emirates, he has no control or influence in any matters relating to Arsenal FC.

At the moment he can do what he likes... In hindsight maybe Kroenke is now regretting allowing Usmanov's wealth to begin to slip away in order to keep control.

Robin Cannon
29 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:36:51
I think it's a totally reasonable piece.

While I don't necessarily think that we can expect any club to be purer than pure, we shouldn't be willing to just brush everything questionable under the table, or call it an unfair hatchet job, because we happen to be financially benefiting.

Mike Gaynes
30 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:37:03
One interesting item that jumped out for me is that Kenwright is still negotiating the deals to sign players. Not Moshiri.
Dermot Byrne
31 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:42:09
Yawn. The whole game is a rich man's play thing. If any of you think this is our club then so are the railways, the Stock Market and the political parties.

So, we are now worried that our rich man is being treated worse than someone else's rich man? Oh whatever happened to our dignity?

Steavey Buckley
32 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:44:14
Brent (#25),

David Conn never criticised the Man City naming rights issues in his column when it was controversial at the time. Yet, the Everton naming rights for the training ground, that David Conn is complaining about, is for far less money in comparison.

Colin Glassar
33 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:47:22
I saw that, Mike... Chilling.
John G Davies
34 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:48:07
Not in the slightest concerned about the implications. You have to get up early to catch a business man with the power of Usmanov.

The clubs all laughed at Uefa when they tried to implicate FFP. Accepted a watered down token gesture to let Uefa save face when it was a fuck you in all but name.

I would welcome Mr Usmanov with open arms and any of his mates he would like to invite!

James Flynn
35 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:48:49
Other than the click-bait headline, pretty tame reading. Certainly, as mentioned in other comments, nothing new here. It's all been gone over before.

It reads as something the writer saved in his back pocket for a slow news day. Press-wise, pretty small pickings for the middle of the window. Not even the routine 8-9 players "Manchester United are monitoring...." piece.

Meh, he has to type something. My understanding is that The Guardian is well-read and this fellow is respected. He has to be pretty good if several ToffeeWebbers are complimenting him. So why not feature Everton? Makes for a change.

Chris Williams
36 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:52:51
Mike I'm not sure Moshiri is allowed to be actively involved in the day-to-day business of the club. He's not on the board whereas Both Bill and Elstone are executive directors. As a shareholder he can arrange to appoint or replace directors I think.

If he gets too involved, you can get a shadow director issue, the same as Green was accused of, and against FA rules and company law.

The amazing thing is that Moshiri, who seems sensible and professional, should allow the Chuckle Brothers anywhere near business matters.

Brent Stephens
37 Posted 25/01/2017 at 18:58:24
Steavey, your question implied Conn didn't write about City's financial goings-on – I was just pointing out that he did.

I read this as just another piece of investigative journalism – the Everton, the City, the other bits he's produced. If he didn't want us to hear about City etc, surely he wouldn't have been digging.

Kristian Boyce
38 Posted 25/01/2017 at 19:36:29
I normally enjoy Conn's articles and he's probably the best investigative football writer around. Unfortunately, this piece was probably the most lightweight he's done for a while. There's basically nothing we didn't know already and the only slightly interesting part was Bill 'greatest salesman of Everton' Kenwright's continued role in transfers.

Farhad Moshiri and Alisher Usmanov are business partners and by all accounts close friends. While USM is Usmanov's company, Moshiri is also a shareholder of it and has a say in its operations. It's an investment company and it is exactly doing what it is meant to be doing, investing. ٤m a year is small fry compared to the millions Man City have gained from their internal deals.

While I don't think there is any real dodgy dealings between Usmanov and Everton, I do believe he's playing an interesting game. He gets no real love from the Arsenal board and with Moshiri running Everton, he has a potential future option of investment. If we do start to meet the potential we have and get our new flashy stadium, I wouldn't be surprised if he jumps ship to a club where the owner would welcome him with open arms.

The piece seems a little dig at the club coming from the Manchester Guardian, unhappy at the new found wealth we have. We have the potential to throw a spanner in the works of the few monied teams in the league. I don't think this is going down well with the Sky 6, especially Arsenal who see money moving from us to them.

James Flynn
39 Posted 25/01/2017 at 20:11:43
This part of the article:

"Explaining what an investment company which holds, buys and sells such vast assets sees in the sponsoring of the Everton training ground, Ivan Streshinsky, a member of the USM board, said they were acquiring an “extensive package of marketing rights” which could provide the company with “unique year-round global media exposure”.

These rights include displaying the USM or other brand names on the LED boards around the Goodison Park pitch, backdrop for player and manager TV interviews, and access to Everton players for promotion purposes."

It reads, to me, that the Finch Farm naming rights include the above or is another deal in the hopper to get USM advertising on the boards during games.

Chris Williams
40 Posted 25/01/2017 at 20:32:09
I suppose we have discussed this issue on here before and in some detail, so maybe Conn's readers don't have the same level of understanding we may have here.

Hence the article. Not that I'm trying to be a Conn apologist!

Steavey Buckley
41 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:04:15
Brent (37) The naming rights surrounding Man City were very controversial at the time. Yet, all David Conn did was to report it without asking questions. But with the acquisition of Finch Farm naming rights he has raised questions.
Brent Stephens
42 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:10:40

Brian Harrison
43 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:12:13
I think the article is about are USM getting value for money out of sponsoring Finch Farm. Well it is impossible to answer but the Company are quite happy with the deal. As far as I can see no financial or football rules have been broken.

So, as much as Mr Conn is not happy with the deal, Unless there is further investment from USM which then may be cause for investigation I think this is just Conn saying "I am watching what happens here".

Roger Helm
44 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:14:33
Who cares what Conn thinks. Money talks in this game and if it is legal and within the rules, which I am sure Moshiri and Usmanov and their lawyers will ensure it is, then the more the merrier.

If the Sky six and their journalist catspaws are getting twitchy, then that's even better in my book. Perhaps we need to buy a few journos of our own.

So Usmanov is worth 㾺 billion? Well, you can't take it with you Alisher so tell Arsenal and their board to fuck off and come to a club and a city where you will be properly appreciated. A few hundred million spent here will be much more effective than with the serial underachievers at Arsenal.

Only downside is Kenwright's reported inability to let it go and let the pros do a proper job.

James Flynn
45 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:16:43
Steavey (32) - First, he didn't "complain" at any point in the article. In fact, he includes the Man City business right there IN the article.

This is a "dead air space" thing he threw up on-line because nothing particular is happening, but HE still has to post something.

Fine by me, the "something" he chose was about Everton.

But he wasn't complaining about anything. Just a rote column about EPL Club commercial business.

Glad it was us.

Brent Stephens
46 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:18:51
James has it. Neatly put.
Trevor Lynes
47 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:27:19
Think about it lads, the media is based in Manchester and London and comments about money and EFC is nothing new.Does anyone on here remember Henry Rose the sports writer for the Express ?When we had Sir John pulling the strings we were christened the Mersey millionaires and all our success was down to us having more money than other clubs.Now Man Utd give their manager of the day 𧶀 million to bail them out when they struggled and sacked Moyes.Without their financial clout they would have been competing with Sunderland at the foot of the table.The top six are the children of the media and the rest of the clubs are the untouchables.Leicester was a one off and a novelty to break the tedium.EFC are a sleeping giant and the top six may well become a top six including us at the expense of one of the present bunch.
Anthony Dwyer
48 Posted 26/01/2017 at 00:04:57
I can't understand how we sold naming rights to a council owned property!

Not complaining like....

Alan J Thompson
49 Posted 26/01/2017 at 05:29:48
Adam (#7); Thanks for that as I wasn't even sure if it had come into effect yet and have to agree with Chris (#26), it seems to be there to protect the status quo, moneywise.

Dermot (#31); as for Bill still handling transfers, give a man enough rope. Can't think who may have been the chandler though.

Dan Nulty
50 Posted 26/01/2017 at 10:15:19
Genuinely wouldn't be concerned by this. The worst that can happen is the FA step in and say Usmanov is effectively investing in Everton. He then has to make a decision about which one he keeps.

Is he going to keep his investment in Arsenal with no hope of eventually gaining control and what benefit is he actually getting from being there other than his box? Plus when Wenger goes will we see them struggle as per Utd when Fergie left? I think that is a distinct possibility.

Or would he invest in Everton where there is a huge opportunity to build up the brand with potential stadium etc etc.

I know I am biased but I know where I would sink my money...

Craig McFarlane
51 Posted 26/01/2017 at 10:38:57
James @39 I saw the USM logo flashing across the pitch-side advertising boards during the Man City game and also behind Koeman during the post match interview, so I reckon the deal includes the other parts Ivan Streshinsky mentions.
Neil Quinn
52 Posted 26/01/2017 at 10:51:00
I wouldn't be too worried. Usmanov & Moshiri didn't get where they are today by being thick. They've also been involved in football for long enough to know how the system works. They'll have all the angles covered.
Laurie Hartley
53 Posted 26/01/2017 at 11:07:01
In mine opinion Usmanov decided a long time ago he was going to buy Everton. Kronke has resolutely resisted Usmanov getting any more than 30% of Arsenal and I wouldn't have thought Usmanov is the type of character who would be happy to play second fiddle to anyone.

As I see it, Usmanov's dilemna is how he can turn the tables on his adversary. He certainly wouldn't want to let Kronke get hold of any of his 30% share in Arsenal.

The two things going for Usmanov in this situation are that the stake in Arsenal is a very good long term investment and he doesn't need to cash in anyway – he's loaded.

He has also gone on the record when questioned about getting out of Arsenal as saying something along the lines of – "This is a long term investment for my family".

I have suggested on several other articles on this subject that if he can, he will transfer his ownership in Arsenal shares to his step-son – Anton Viner (who by the way is a developer).

This would achieve several things for Usmanov (I might have to start calling him Mr):-

1. It would effectively end his personal commercial interest in Arsenal.

2. This would open the way for him to buy the Kenwright and Woods shares.

3. He could then put into effect at Everton what he wanted to do at Arsenal – create a mega football club (pun intended).

4. Last but by no means least it would get right up Kronke's nose.

Farhad Moshiri is Alisher Usmanov's trusted friend and lieutenant. His investment in Everton was the first stage of this cunning plot.

He has installed Ryazantsev to the board – he will be drilling down into the numbers and personalities at the club.

Martinez sacked and Koeman appointed to look after things on the pitch.

Next three moves:

5. Mr Usmanov sells his shares to his son in law.

6. Mr Usmanov buys Kenwright and Woods shares.

7. Stadium announcement.

I am enjoying this. We are going to be great again. They won't like that.

Brian Williams
54 Posted 26/01/2017 at 11:14:32
Laurie, I sincerely hope you're right, mate... I really do!
Brian Williams
55 Posted 26/01/2017 at 11:20:14
Anthony (#48).

It's quite straight forward really. Imagine someone leases a shop or business. They put up their sign "Bobs Burgers" or whatever, and they can call it what they like. They (the leaser) could also offer to let somebody else call it what "they" wanted to if they (the namer) paid the person leasing the shop for the privilege.

That's basically what Everton have done. Obviously they've done it to get money into the club while circumventing the FFP or whatever it's called, which in my book is rather clever! It's dead obvious but I believe the powers that be can't do an awful lot about it... or can they?

Stan Schofield
56 Posted 26/01/2017 at 11:25:40
Laurie@53: I like your reasoning, it's compelling, seems logical. Fingers crossed it pans out.
Laurie Hartley
57 Posted 26/01/2017 at 11:50:52
Stan – I am going to buy one of those big fur hats.
Ron Sear
58 Posted 26/01/2017 at 16:17:30
The article is enlightening in that it highlights how billionaires skate just this side of legality when they think it's in their financial interest. The fact that Everton is the one being examined by a pretty competent journo is simply a matter of timing, given that the club is one that seems to poking its nose above the parapet at the moment.

Nothing to worry about, more of an examination of the way the premier league now works. It should be the business of journalists to bring into the open items of potential concern, just thank your lucky stars you don't have the Russian government or the Trump lunacy jumping all over one of our few and more decent examples of independent journalism.
Stan Schofield
59 Posted 26/01/2017 at 16:49:53
Ron, yes, and at least it seems to reflect an apparent increasing profile of the club in the media. As Oscar Wilde once said, there's only one thing worse than being talked about, and that's not being talked about.
Tony Abrahams
60 Posted 26/01/2017 at 17:13:12
Only a Mr, Laurie? I think Sir Alex, sounds much better!
Brent Stephens
61 Posted 26/01/2017 at 17:34:46
Laurie (#53) that makes a lot of sense. Good post.
Dave Williams
62 Posted 26/01/2017 at 17:52:04
I think the proviso is that the amount paid for the package of rights is commercial i.e..not over valued.

This is very difficult to overturn because Usmanov has no financial interest in Everton and the exposure this deal will give to his company is enormous. It is not possible to value this as the club is entitled to ask whatever it wants as a fee and only Usmanov can judge whether the benefits will be worth it.

It's not dodgy and from our point of you great business as it is commercial revenue as opposed to a loan which would have to be repaid.

Will he invest in the future? Who knows but Farhad appears to have the cash and the contacts to do what we need in any event.

To those who slag off Bill doing transfers, I know quite a few people who work in football and he is held in high regard as a negotiator. Our problem has always been an absence of cash not the negotiations.

Steavey Buckley
63 Posted 26/01/2017 at 18:04:13
James (#42),

Dave Conn is a Man City fan, so there will be differences no matter how subtle in his reporting of naming rights of Man City and Everton. David Conn should have made clear he is a Man City fan when making his reports of his and other football clubs.

James Flynn
65 Posted 26/01/2017 at 01:19:40
Steavey – Fine by me. Not sure why you've selected this particular hobby-horse to ride, bur hey, ride it until the springs bust and good luck to you.

I don't care who Conn supports and saw nothing in the article indicating bias.

David Ellis
66 Posted 27/01/2017 at 01:56:04
Steavey (#63) etc – thank goodness all those that post on here are totally objective about Everton... otherwise, imagine the nonsense that would be written.
Alan J Thompson
67 Posted 27/01/2017 at 06:15:05
Laurie (#57); Don't be silly, you'll stand out like a sore thumb wearing the big fur hat, the red coat, carrying that rifle and standing perfectly still at the bus stop. Apart from that, we'd only know where you come from by the way you do your buttons up. Hang on, I might rephrase that.
Laurie Hartley
68 Posted 27/01/2017 at 06:34:35
Alan (#67) – I can come as a lot of things but I'm not wearing a red coat for anyone.
Alan J Thompson
69 Posted 27/01/2017 at 06:55:36
The Hussars it is then, Laurie. "Half a league, half a league, half a league in front of us..." or to paraphrase a relative of the Duke of Marlborough, "Makes you proud to be an Evertonian!"
Eric Myles
70 Posted 27/01/2017 at 07:05:11
Jack #19. The original source of that article was Watched Toffee, the journo just copied and pasted his work. It wasn't Conn, though I can't recall who or which paper, but it's on this website somewhere.
Brian Williams
72 Posted 27/01/2017 at 14:40:38
Dave Williams (#62).

You're right. That's the bit I couldn't remember. The bit that says it mustn't be overvalued.

Put in place to stop investors buying hotdogs for 𧶀 a pop sort of thing!

Dave Williams
73 Posted 27/01/2017 at 17:14:14
Absolutely Brian!
Martin Nicholls
74 Posted 27/01/2017 at 17:24:53
I believe Moshiri has a 10% stake in USM. Should he draw dividends on his holding and invest the money in EFC I understand it could impact on FFP rules. If however he chooses to waive his entitlement to dividends but "ensure" that an equivalent amount passes to EFC by way of sponsorship there seems a good chance it would circumvent FFP. And payment for sponsorship is no doubt tax deductible for USM! Everyone's a winner!
Mick Davies
75 Posted 27/01/2017 at 00:23:36
Liverppol's training kit is sponsored (Indonesia airways think), and no one has questioned that. Liverpool were allowed to build a stadium in a prestige public park, Everton weren't allowed to build in a rundown overspill newtown.

Liverpool shouldn't have been allowed to enter the Champions League in 2005, but the rules were bent so they could – anyone see a pattern here? Or are Evertonians suffering collective paranoia?

Ron Sear
76 Posted 28/01/2017 at 15:11:55
The Guardian seems to be running a series of quite well written articles covering the murkier aspects of funding and local council machinations around football and long may it continue to shine a light where it's needed. The latest one is quite a good read and covers Millwall's fight for survival of its ground.

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