In the midst of his initial ambitious spending spree as Everton’s major shareholder, Farhad Moshiri declared his desire for the club to represent success rather than become a museum. However, as he announces the sale of his now 94.1% shareholding to American investment fund 777 Partners, the situation is more akin to a poorly managed graveyard in both football and financial terms.
If this deal successfully goes through, Moshiri leaves Everton in arguably the most troubled and disorganized state in their 145-year history. Everton has narrowly avoided relegation in the past two seasons, and their transfer market spending has been chaotic and often wasteful. Furthermore, they are facing an independent commission inquiry in October due to an alleged breach of Financial Fair Play rules, which Everton vehemently denies but adds to the turmoil surrounding the club during Moshiri’s tenure.
Moshiri’s management has been marked by frequent changes in managers, questionable appointments, and a lack of structure in the transfer strategy, leading to frustration among the loyal fanbase, who have resorted to peaceful protests against the club’s direction. While there were moments when Moshiri seemed to fulfill his high ambitions, such as the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti in 2019, these moments were overshadowed by ongoing issues.
Remarkably, Moshiri has not attended a game at Goodison Park since October 2021 when Watford defeated Everton 5-2, a pivotal moment that marked the decline of Rafael Benitez, another managerial appointment that went awry.
Until early 2022, Moshiri was also associated with Alisher Usmanov, a controversial figure and Moshiri’s business associate from their time as shareholders at Arsenal. Usmanov sponsored various aspects of Everton, but this relationship was severed in March 2022 when his assets were frozen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Throughout this tumultuous period, Bill Kenwright remained chairman, despite being divisive and largely unpopular among fans. Kenwright had initially welcomed Moshiri as the “perfect partner” when the latter joined Everton seven years ago after an exhaustive search for investment. However, for most Everton fans, these seven years under Moshiri’s ownership have been far from perfect and have felt exhausting.
While Moshiri’s initial intentions of injecting money into a club that had operated on a limited budget were well-intentioned, they were executed poorly, often with the cooperation of Kenwright and a board that seemed more interested in self-congratulation than effective governance. What was meant to be a bold new era for Everton has turned into a bewildering nightmare.
If there is one positive outcome of Farhad Moshiri’s ownership, it is the construction of a magnificent new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock on the banks of the River Mersey.
Farhad Moshiri made an early statement by sacking Roberto Martinez in 2016 to bring in Ronald Koeman, who secured European qualification in his first season. However, the club soon lost its direction, with chaotic transfer dealings and managerial changes. By 2017, Koeman was gone, and Sam Allardyce took charge, but even his short tenure couldn’t appease the discontent among fans. After Allardyce, Marco Silva was appointed, but he too had a short-lived tenure.
Moshiri then turned to Carlo Ancelotti, which was seen as a significant coup. Ancelotti’s tenure had its moments but ultimately ended with a 10th-place finish and his departure for Real Madrid. Farhad Moshiri’s next gamble was the controversial appointment of former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, who was sacked amid fan protests after less than seven months in charge.
Critics pointed to too many people involved in Everton’s transfer deals and suggested that Moshiri was easily swayed by favored agents pushing players to the club. While Moshiri adopted the director of football model, his choices for this role did not align with the managers’ visions, leading to instability.
After Benitez, Frank Lampard briefly managed Everton, saving them from relegation in the 2021-2022 season but being sacked before completing a full year in charge. The managerial selection process raised questions about the club’s decision-making.
A last-minute appointment of Sean Dyche, with a completely different footballing philosophy, ultimately ensured Everton’s top-flight status for another season. However, the board, including Kenwright, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, and Graeme Sharp, stopped attending games, citing security concerns. Moshiri also remained distant from the club.
A reshuffle within the club saw Barrett-Baxendale and Sharp leave, with Kenwright remaining as chairman and Moshiri joining the board. However, this was seen as a temporary fix as Everton faced financial challenges, a thin squad, and demands from fans for change.
Talks with New York-based MSP Sports Capital for investment collapsed, leaving the door open for 777 Partners, who had previously expressed interest. Assuming the Premier League approves the deal, Moshiri’s seven-year ownership will be remembered for chaos, mismanagement, and dysfunction on a grand scale.
The future of Everton remains uncertain as they strive to recover from this tumultuous period in their history.
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