Everton have secured a “high-value” naming rights deal for their training complex with a company founded by Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov.
Usmanov is a close business associate of Everton’s major shareholder Farhad Moshiri and his company, USM Holdings, has struck a five-year agreement to rename the complex USM Finch Farm.
It is one of two deals worth a total of £75m revealed by chief executive Robert Elstone at the club’s AGM this week.
The other is for shirt sponsorship.
Moshiri’s ambitious plans for Everton also include an eventual move away from Goodison Park to a new stadium, with a site on the Mersey waterfront at Bramley Moore Dock the preferred option.
He told shareholders at a meeting this week: “It is not enough to say ‘we are special’. We don’t want to be a museum. We need to be competitive and we need to win.”
Why is the deal particularly significant?
Moshiri and Usmanov, who has often been linked with buying into Everton but has always stated his full commitment to Arsenal, are long-time friends.
Moshiri sold his stake in Arsenal to Usmanov – the club’s second largest shareholder with 30.04% – to assist his purchase of a 49.9% shareholding in Everton for £87.5m 11 months ago.
Despite Usmanov’s involvement with USM Holdings, there is no suggestion of a conflict of interest because he is not involved in the management of both clubs.
And Everton would only breach Financial Fair Play regulations if they were the beneficiaries of private investment as opposed to revenue raised commercially.
Moshiri is one of the main shareholders in USM Holdings, along with Usmanov and Vladimir Skoch.
Businesses that come under the USM umbrella include Metalloinvest, the largest mining company in Russia.