Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has held talks with an American-based consortium which could result in a takeover of the club.
While negotiations are said to be at an early stage the option of the Iranian-born billionaire relinquishing his control at Goodison Park appears to now be on the table.
The PA news agency understands initial conversations between Moshiri and a consortium led by former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon were about investment opportunities for the £500million new ground which is currently under construction at Bramley-Moore Dock.
However, during those discussions it became clear there was potential for a more significant deal and that is when the subject changed to complete sale.
The interested consortium is reported to include Maciek Kaminski, the chief executive of Minneapolis-based Talon Real Estate, and American businessman and executive chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation John Thornton.
But there are understood to be a number of other parties who are keeping an eye on developments and would be interested in the club were it to become available for purchase.
Only last week Moshiri wrote an open letter to supporters in which he said he was “committed to securing the future success of the club by delivering a fully-funded stadium that will underpin our status as a leading club”.
He signed off his message to fans with the words: “Your incredible support is never taken for granted and together we move forward.”
However, with the significant cost of a new stadium – which in 2019 Moshiri pledged to make up any shortfall in funding – and the club trying to get their finances in order after losses of more than £370m over the last three years, the owner’s stance appears to be more flexible.
Moshiri has spent more than half-a-billion pounds on players since buying the club for £220million in February 2016 and it is reported he wants upwards of £500m to relinquish his control of the club.
The club’s huge and sustained losses could have put Everton in line for a penalty under profit and sustainability rules but the club remains confident, due to the extended impact of Covid-19, they will avoid any punishment and have been working with the Premier League since the end of last year to get things in order.
It will be something any potential new owner would want to have clarified and concluded before they press ahead with any purchase.