You don’t think the Everton Administration is a get out of jail free card

The players at Everton have been paid this month, and every other payroll, so have the contractors on the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, as well as HMRC, which may be a minimum but represents something in a week another odd one.

The collapse of the supposed takeover by 777 Partners has sparked a new wave of pessimism at the club, and it’s not hard to see why. Those US investors with such a dubious track record, brought forward with the blessing of owner Farhad Moshiri, were hoping for a quick deal. They found nothing similar and now the problems have piled up. On Friday night, Belgian club 777 Standard Liege’s match was postponed after fans blocked the crossing of the team’s bus in protest against their owners Miami.

'Standard on Strike, fck 777' is displayed on a banner during a fan protest

Standard Liege fans are mad at 777 – Bruno Fahy/AFP

For Liege the immediate future looks bleak. As for Everton, one would not make the case that they are the benchmark for stability. But they continue to operate in the short term. Debts of around £500 million to three main parties, including 777, each with varying levels of security on their loans, loom large on the balance sheet. These are difficult problems to solve, and with so much time wasted by Moshiri putting his faith in 777. But Everton still lack the most drastic solution of all.

Administration is not a simple solution and it is not the best solution either – it is really only a solution when it is the only way out. It may be attractive to some potential buyers, for all the penalties that come with it. But its impact would be devastating to many who had little say in the matter, including around 900 Everton employees. So also the multitude of creditors. And the smaller, the bigger the impact.

In the case of Everton, the contractors Laing O’Rourke who would build the stadium would have no choice, in the event of administration, but to cease work on the site. This is not a wardrobe assembly that can simply be paused and returned to later. The complexity of those building schedules alone makes the notion of so-called tactical administration – to absorb the mandatory points deduction this season and start fresh – absurd of course.

Everton's new stadium at Bramley-Moore DockEverton's new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock

Everton’s new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock is nearing completion – Peter Byrne/PA

Administration is always a possibility, as it is in many of these cases. But that’s a long way from being seen as a good choice. At the moment, Everton’s position is clear: they are not even close. There is much more to play at what could be in the declaration of interest of the end of 777 and what would be a difficult negotiation regarding the debt by a predicted new bidder.

This would be complicated to say the least. There is a difficult path to walk that would see a new owner get the club with restructured external debt of £500 million and, through the player sales that Sean Dyche has already tracked, keep the team competitive in the Premiership next season. It could be argued that the expertise that the club has developed to a high level of competence in recent years is effective football crisis management. They know how to do this.

Moshiri will have to write off his own exorbitant loan of around £450 million. He has certainly suggested he will, which would remain a frightening addition to the legacy of football’s most popular club owners of recent times. The club would have to find a way to sell the likes of Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at good prices in a market crowded with sellers trying to stick to profitability and sustainability (PSR) rules. They would have to fine-tune the loan market to a side capable of finishing 17th or better. They would have to negotiate clear of the third possible violation of PSR.

All this is no simple task, but better to try the miracle. What Everton is worth depends on the market. But there has never been a club of this scale, with a new stadium so close to completion. That alone should be enough to try to generate some motivation to settle the debt.

Football has its own sad history of club administration in recent years dating back to and beyond the single Premier League incident with Portsmouth in 2010. It is remarkable that everyone from Bury to Derby County, back in some fashion. Football clubs don’t usually disappear. But that doesn’t mean easy convenience, in this case or any other, and the scars on the club are deep.

In 2010, Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie faces angry fans after the club goes into administrationIn 2010, Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie faces angry fans after the club goes into administration

In 2010, Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie (left) faced angry fans when the club went into administration – Glyn Kirk/AFP

Administration is an outcome that is, of course, not entirely in Everton’s hands, should one of their biggest creditors decide that is their best option. The outcome of 777’s problems, with loans of around £192 million and under intense pressure from their lenders, is hard to predict. MSP Sports Capital, which is owed around £160 million, is unlikely to do so. They are partnered in that loan by Everton fans and property developers, Andy Bell and George Downing, as well as Moshiri himself.

Football is a risky business – and above all the possibility that the new independent regulator will try to impose a regime on clubs where sustainability makes investment almost impossible, such is the nature of the sport. Those who believe that owners should be forced to post bonds and deposit guarantees on every pound invested in the Moshiri years will seize Everton. Many clubs walk a fine line and succeed, it was not the case for this owner at this club.

What matters now is how Everton manage it – and the scale of the task is huge. There is always the prospect of administration, but there is much that may come in between now and then that may avoid it.

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