From Kansas to Merseyside.
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Everton have long been up for sale and with fans growing increasingly impatient as fresh investment has yet to arrive on Merseyside while other clubs around the Premier League continue to attract significant overseas investment. Now, American investors could help take Everton to the next level.
BBC Sport initially reported that Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has set a $347 million asking price for the Toffees and American investors with close links to Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City are said to be “exploring” a deal to buy the Goodison Park club. However The Kansas City Business Journal then quoted Sporting Club spokesman Rob Thomson as saying that there is “nothing remotely accurate” about the BBC’s report.
However, ProSoccerTalk understands that Sporting Kansas City’s CEO Robb Heineman and Mike Illig — whose father is the principal investor in the group of Kansas City entrepreneurs that purchased Kansas City Wizards from the Hunt Sports Group in 2006 and also co-founder of the Cerner Corporation health care information technology group — attended Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial in August at Goodison with the intention to try and pitch the idea of buying the club to Kenwright and the board.
ProSoccerTalk has also learned that other ownership groups of pro franchises in the U.S. are “in the running” for Everton as Kenwright looks to be gaining some ground in his hunt for fresh investment. There is no confirmation on how many bidders are jostling or if detailed negotiations have begun, but it is believed that multiple parties from the U.S. are interested in investing or buying the club outright. Numbers suggested for the purchase of the club have been rumored to be around $150m for the team itself, then $85m for Goodison and then to clear the club of the debt levels it had in 2014, that would take another $50-75 million. If those numbers are true, then Kenwright and the board would be willing to let the club go for significantly less than the $347 million figure previously reported.
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The BBC initially cited a financial source from within the City of London about the deal, while the move has also been mooted in Kansas City in other reports. Rumors have been rife over the past few weeks and Sporting rep Illig posted pictures from Goodison and Heineman retweeted to further ramp up speculation. The SKC duo are both part of the ownership group which took control of the Kansas City Wizards in 2006. Per the BBC, Everton did not comment when contacted about suggestions that a takeover deal is under discussion.
The big question here is that even if Sporting Club is not directly involved, could Illig and other Kansas businessmen be putting together a separate ownership group to try and buy the Toffees? Interesting times ahead for Evertonians.