Everton takeover thrown into doubt following collapse of Australian budget airline

777 Partners, which owns Australian budget airline Bonza, needs to raise funds to complete their takeover of the Premier League club

Richard Jolly
Senior Football Correspondent
Tuesday 30 April 2024 19:53 BST
Everton are facing the risk of administration
Everton are facing the risk of administration (Photos by Getty )

Everton’s protracted takeover by 777 Partners was brought into further doubt this week, as an Australian budget airline owned by the American investment firm fell into administration.

Bonza had its fleet of planes repossessed by AIP Capital, which had provided financing services to 777, the Miami-based company which has agreed to buy owner Farhad Moshiri’s 94 per cent stake in Everton.

It comes as 777 needs to raise funds to complete its takeover of Everton. As part of the Premier League’s conditions to approve the deal, 777 has to repay a £158m loan Moshiri took out with MSP Capital and two Merseyside businessmen, Andy Bell and George Downing.

The deadline for that loan fell two weeks ago but 777 agreed an extension of “weeks, not months” and it has approached other lenders, including the American credit provider Blue Sky Capital, in an attempt to access the financing.

The Premier League also insisted that 777 had to deposit £60m in an escrow account and convert its loans to the Merseyside club into equity if it was to be permitted to complete the takeover.

So far, 777 has loaned Everton around £200m to cover running costs including the construction of their new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, including a payment which arrived on Tuesday. For now, building work at the £760m ground is continuing, while staff at the club have been paid.

With money coming in from season ticket sales for their final campaign at Goodison Park and a guarantee of Premier League income for next season after Sean Dyche’s team secured safety, it is thought Everton have the funds to cope in the short term.

The Toffees have had a conversation with Teneo, a financial advisory firm, about long-term debt restructuring to repay the money needed to build the stadium, though the club have not engaged them. That meeting is understood to have been planned before Bonza’s sudden descent into administration and the timing has been deemed coincidental.

Bonza flights were grounded on Tuesday as the airline entered administration
Bonza flights were grounded on Tuesday as the airline entered administration (Getty Images)
Bramley-Moore Dock is the site of Everton’s new stadium
Bramley-Moore Dock is the site of Everton’s new stadium (Getty Images)

However, it adds to the uncertainty surrounding the nine-time champions of England, with Moshiri so far refusing to say if he would fund the club were 777 to stop doing so. That could lead to the possibility of Everton going into administration but that is not thought to be an immediate concern at Goodison Park.

MSP, which has security over the ground and some of Moshiri’s shareholding, would have the right to enforce that, if its loan was not repaid, while there are reports other investors are interested in the club.

777, founded by businessmen Josh Wander and Steve Pasko, has insisted it is confident of passing the Premier League’s owners and directors’ test. It owns or has stakes in a host of other clubs, including Vasco da Gama, Standard Liege, Genoa, Sevilla and Hertha Berlin, though some have financial concerns.

Meanwhile, Everton have won their last three games to ensure a 71st consecutive season of top-flight football, despite suffering two points deductions this season for breaching profitability and sustainability rules.

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