February 29, 2024
Farhad Moshiri and (inset, from top left) Cenk Tosun, Yannick Bolasie and Ashley Williams

Farhad Moshiri is the Everton arsonist who burned £700m

 

 

It requires a leap of imagination, but consider a world in which Sean Dyche is leading an Everton title challenge; top of the league, head-to-head with Manchester City.

 

Everton are docked ten points for breaking Profit and Sustainability guidelines while City, charged a month earlier with an additional 114 breaches of rule W.82.1, can prepare their next title procession. One suspects the outcry regarding fairness, proportionality and integrity would be earsplitting.

 

The above scenario may seem outrageously hypothetical given the vastly different trajectories of Everton and Manchester City since Farhad Moshiri and Sheikh Mansour ploughed billions into their respective clubs. It is damning on Everton’s misuse of funds that few can picture them as a title challenger.

That is because while City used their vast resources to generate extravagant firework displays, Moshiri’s wealth created the most expensive bonfire in English football history.

 

City’s success has given them a power and a defensive shield which Goodison Park does not have, so for legal and political reasons Everton feel like an easier target for a Premier League board under pressure from its current and previous stakeholders – especially those who have made living within their means non-negotiable – to show its claws.

 

That does not change the fact that this dishonourable tale has a lesson: if you want to incite a Premier League investigation for cheating, go big, go bold, and put off the possibility of facing consequences for years while you keep winning all the major tournaments.

 

Not that the other eighteen Premier League teams and clubs, and the world at large, should throw their support behind Everton. Not at all. They broke Premier League rules because their wastefulness did not result in any profit, and they are in this situation due to entirely their own doing.

 

The arsonist’s means of escape

Moshiri had prepared an escape route, akin to that of a skilled arsonist, prior to the delivery of Everton’s ten-point deduction by an impartial commission. Assuming the sale to 777 Partners goes through, he intends to leave the debris for others. However, the aftermath of his seven-year rule will last longer than today’s verdict.

 

Moshiri smoked £700m and Evertonians have nothing to shout about for all the hassle, save for the sight of a shiny new stadium emerging through the dust clouds.

 

By the end of his reign, Moshiri’s desperate hunt for cash – to survive more than thrive – led Everton to this ten-point deductionBy all measures he has been a calamitous figurehead.

 

In the 13 years prior to Moshiri’s arrival, Everton enjoyed ten top-seven finishes. In his seven years in charge, they have hit that height once, mastering the misstep. They have become the example other moneyed clubs seek to learn from by doing the opposite.

 

Rule one for any cash-rich team is to competently execute a coherent and consistent recruitment plan, an aspiration which eluded Moshiri when his epic transfer splurge built an expensive, unbalanced and faltering team reconstructed by eight different coaches over seven years.

 

Everton’s wage bill increased from £77.5 million in 2021 to £182.6 million under Moshiri as majority shareholder. Despite initial appointments by Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh, Everton struggled to cut costs and avoid relegation in the Premier League.

 

In what would become a theme, Moshiri was seduced by the names and reputations more than thorough due diligence, little thought given as to whether those leading football operations could gel.

 

Moshiri lost a great deal of money due to his naivety, gullibility, and whimsy as the pressure to produce results quickly crushed any hope of a long-term strategy.

 

A cycle of bust without the boom

In Moshiri’s first summer Everton paid £22.5 million for Yannick Bolasie, £20 million for Morgan Schneiderlin and £9 million for Ashley Williams. Williams was a month shy of his 32nd birthday and given a three-year deal. Everton’s wage bill soared to more than £100m.

Terrifyingly, they look like bargains compared to what followed.

In the summer of 2018, Koeman and Walsh squandered £135 million, the most expensive signing being Gylfli Sigurdsson for £40 million. Wayne Rooney returned on a free transfer and the wage bill rose to £145.5m. Koeman was sacked after a poor start to the season that October, the second of Moshiri’s six expensive dismissals.

Walsh did not last long after Sam Allardyce spent a combined £50 million for Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott to keep Everton in the Premier League, before leaving them as an expensive farewell gift that his successor Marco Silva and the next director of football, Marcel Brands, didn’t want.

The hiring and firing never stopped, Everton caught in a cycle of bust without any boom.

With the exception of Carlo Ancelotti – indulged with the likes of James Rodriguez and Brazilian midfielder Allan on contracts which the club could not really afford – successive Everton managers kept paying the price as they failed to repair the damage of the haphazard transfer policy of those first windows.

 

The total cost of the managerial pay-offs—Frank Lampard, Silva, and Rafa Benitez completed the sextet of Moshiri dismissals—is estimated to be around £50 million. Walsh and Brands required substantial compensation after receiving lucrative deals as well.

 

Everton’s board members’ combined salary increased from £770,000 in 2016 to £3.61 million in 2019, despite the anticipated rewards of European football. The Premier League breached rule W.82.1, requiring losses over a three-year period not to exceed £105 million.

Justifications for the losses

 

Everton argues that over the previous two years, they have cut expenses and labour costs and have always been open and honest about their spending.

 

Everton, a Premier League club, has faced scrutiny for their financial practices. They claimed £170 million of potential earnings were written off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a figure considered a strategic overcalculation. They also spent heavily on infrastructure and charity, Everton in the Community. However, their lack of transparency and personal loans have sparked demands for more forensic examination.

 

In May, 2022, Leeds United and Burnley – rivals in a relegation fight – threatened legal action as they argued Moshiri was circumnavigating the rules to retain their best players on big contracts and preserve Premier League status.

 

Everton said they were working with the Premier League to ensure they were compliant and so avoided a rebuke. When they sold Lucas Digne to Aston Villa for £25 million in January, 2022, they were engaged in dialogue with the Premier League as to how much they were allowed to re-invest in the squad.

 

 

Everton faced charges from the Premier League in March 2023, amid ongoing discussions about compliance and a decrease in losses. The new Premier League chair, Alisson Brittain, is believed to have realized past leniency.

 

The Premier League has secured its first significant scalp, preparing for a second hearing, with Everton’s situation signaling accountability for those breaking rules.

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