(Reuters) -Everton have been sold to 777 Partners, the struggling Premier League club said on Friday, with the U.S. private equity firm taking over from Farhad Moshiri in a deal reports said was worth more than 550 million pounds ($685 million).
The Miami-based investment fund said it had signed an agreement with British-Iranian billionaire Moshiri to acquire his 94.1% stake in the club. The deal is expected to be closed by the end of the year, a club statement said.
"We are truly humbled by the opportunity to become part of the Everton family as custodians of the club, and consider it a privilege to be able to build on its proud heritage and values," said Josh Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners.
The firm 777 Partners has a number of clubs in its portfolio, including Italian side Genoa and Belgian team Standard Liege, while they also have stakes in LaLiga club Sevilla and Australian A-League side Melbourne Victory.
Moshiri, a former Arsenal shareholder, first bought a 49.9% stake in Everton in 2016. By January 2022, he had increased his stake to 94.1% with a 100 million-pound capital injection.
But despite investing nearly 750 million euros ($800 million) in transfers to build the squad since Moshiri's arrival, Everton have slipped out of the top half of the table to fight relegation battles in recent seasons.
Everton manager Sean Dyche said he did not know the group at all but insisted there was no impact on him or the squad.
The situation is not new to Dyche, who was Burnley manager when they were taken over by American firm ALK Capital in December 2020.
Burnley sacked Dyche in April 2022, a month before they were relegated to the second-tier.
"I was aware of something happening, but I know as much as you. There are ongoing checks from the Premier League," he said.
"You fathom that out as you go. The Burnley situation was different, they changed the modelling of the club.
"I didn't win enough games (at Burnley), it was nothing to do with those in charge. We need to win more games now, though we've been playing well."
Everton are currently 18th in the standings without a win in four games this season. They host Arsenal on Sunday.
LOSSES FOR FIVE YEARS
Everton's most recent figures showed a fifth straight year of losses -- 44.7 million pounds for the 2021-22 season -- with their total loss over that period amounting to over 430 million pounds.
Under Premier League rules, teams can make a maximum loss of 105 million pounds over three years, although special allowances were made for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Everton are also in the midst of an investigation into alleged breaches of Premier League financial fair play rules, but chairman Bill Kenwright said in April they were confident the Merseyside club were in compliance with all financial rules.
The club is set to go before an independent commission next month over the alleged breaches.
They have also invested in building a new stadium on Bramley Moore-Dock in Liverpool's Vauxhall area, with Moshiri saying it would cost 760 million pounds.
Everton's statement said the investment from 777 Partners would strengthen the club's balance sheet and guarantee "full funding" of the stadium.
"We are committed to partnering with the local community over the long term, working on important projects such as the development of Bramley-Moore Dock as a world-class stadium venue," Wander added.
Everton narrowly avoided relegation from the top flight in each of the last two seasons.
"It is through my lengthy discussions with 777 that I believe they are the best partners to take our great club forward, with all the benefits of their multi-club investment model," Moshiri said.
"Today is an important next step in the successful development of Everton and I look forward to closely following as our Club goes from strength to strength."
($1 = 0.8041 pounds, 0.9379 euros)
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Toby Chopra, Christian Radnedge and Hugh Lawson)