Premier League strugglers Everton are close to being sold to Miami-based investment firm 777 Partners.
The takeover will bring to an end the tumultuous tenure of owner Farhad Moshiri, who first invested in 2016.
A source close to Moshiri said Everton have sought investment for a while, but the deal is not yet complete.
Sean Dyche’s side lie 18th in the league after picking up just one point from their opening four games so far this season.
Everton are in disarray both on and off the pitch, narrowly escaping relegation in the last two seasons, including staying up with victory on the final day last term.
Next month the club will go before an independent commission for an alleged breach of the Premier League’s financial fair play rules, but Everton have denied wrongdoing and said they were “prepared to robustly defend” their position.
In March, the club posted financial losses for the fifth successive year, taking their cumulative losses over the past five years to more than £430m.
They are also in the process of building a new stadium on Bramley Moore Dock and costs could reach £760m, a £260m increase on figures quoted by the club last year.
Everton and 777 declined to comment when contacted by BBC Sport.
What has happened at Everton?
In February, Moshiri told the fans’ advisory board the club was “not for sale” but he had been talking to “top investors of real quality”.
British-Iranian businessman Moshiri has invested more than £750m since 2016, but some supporters have been deeply unhappy about his ownership of the club.
Toffees fans held protests before some home games last season and called for Moshiri and the board to leave the club.
Chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, chief finance and strategy officer Grant Ingles and non-executive director Graeme Sharp have all since left their boardroom roles, but chairman Bill Kenwright remains in his post.
In the latest accounts, the club had an annual turnover of £181m – down from £193.1m – having suspended commercial sponsorship arrangements with Russian companies in March 2022.
Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who had his assets frozen by the European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has a 49% stake in USM Holdings, which sponsored Everton’s training ground.
Moshiri, who is chairman of USM Holdings, put in a cash injection of £70m in 2021-22.
Who are 777 Partners?
777 Partners is an investment platform based in Miami that has branched out into sports clubs over the past few years.
They aim to provide growth capital for businesses and describe their foray into the sports market as a being an “investment in the long game”.
They already have already invested in various football clubs around the world, including Vasco de Gama in Brazil, Standard Liege in Belgium and Hertha Berlin of Germany, but have faced protests from supporters about the way their clubs are run.
777 bought a 45% stake in the British Basketball League in 2021, in a deal which was determined to present no conflict of interest despite the same firm also owning the London Lions, who won the title last season.
In a statement, 777 said they “categorically confirm that there is no investigation into its ownership of the London Lions, and that these rumours are completely unfounded”.
The firm also holds a share in La Liga side Sevilla, who won the Europa League last season.
777’s interests are not limited to sport – they also have assets in insurance, aviation, media and entertainment.
Should the deal be completed, it would mean half of the 20 Premier League teams would be American-owned.