Alisher Usmanov’s involvement in Everton Football Club has come into question over the last few days.
The Guardian report that newly discovered documents show that Usmanov gifted part of his Arsenal stake to business associate Farhad Moshiri back in 2007. Moshiri then sold his stake back to Usmanov last year, and promptly bought shares in Everton.
On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be a problem. The rules state that you can’t own more than 10% of two Premier League clubs at once, but as Moshiri sold his Arsenal shareholding before buying into Everton, there’s no breach of the regulations there.
However, the implication is that since Moshiri was originally gifted the Arsenal shares by Usmanov, and then sold them back for money, that money was essentially gifted to him by Usmanov. So there’s a suspicion that Usmanov funded Moshiri’s investment in Everton.
A spokesman for Moshiri told the Guardian this doesn’t show the whole picture, and Moshiri did pay Usmanov back for his half of the Arsenal stake using money from his own investment company.
However, suspicions were raised further by the fact Everton’s training ground was sponsored by USM earlier this year, a company Usmanov principally owns. The Premier League approved this deal at the time. It raises the issue of whether the Premier League should be more strict in guarding against dual ownership.
There’s no question they’ve been enforcing the rule about owning 10% of multiple clubs at once, but clearly Usmanov and Moshiri have been allowed to own significant portions of their respective clubs despite being close enough as business associates to gift millions of pounds worth of shares to each other.
Arsenal fans are already unhappy with the current state of ownership of the football club, and this is unlikely to help matters much, especially if Usmanov or Moshiri end up receiving any kind of sanctions for the deals involving the two team.
At this stage, we have no reason to believe that will be the case, however.