EVERTON is going to be sold. As hard as that is to believe, all the signs point to a takeover happening. Depending on who you believe, it could even happen by the end of the month.
Working out who to believe is basically my job. Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it wrong.
It’s a lot harder, and a lot more frustrating for fans thirsty for news, when those in the know are bound by non-disclosure agreements. But bear this in mind. Everyone leaks. And all clubs brief.
Having been here many times before, it’s impossible to say with 100 per cent certainty who will end up owning Everton, or when.
But John Moores and Charles Noell are the first people in years to have gone as far down the road as this. In fact, they could be the only people ever to have got this close to buying out Bill.
There is also a confidence coming from everyone I’ve spoken to about them which makes it hard to doubt the deal will get done, if it isn’t already.
I haven’t written much about any rival interest because, while I’ve heard plenty about another US consortium, and a group from China, neither of them have an agreement in place with Everton.
And let’s face it, Moores is a pretty interesting character. I get the feeling most Evertonians are wary of the man, which is an understandable response to someone you’ve never come across before.
But without knowing exactly what is on the table from each of the interested parties it is difficult to make an informed decision on the merits of one potential owner over another.
And if you’ve decided you don’t like what you read about Moores just from what I’ve written about him, then maybe you’re being too hasty.
After all, the man hasn’t yet had much of a chance to tell his side of the story, or make his intentions clear.
In addition, sometimes how a story is angled depends on who does, and who doesn’t, allow you to quote them and how much of what they say is safe to publish.
Personally, I’m keeping an open mind because I think whoever ends up owning Everton deserves a chance to prove they can do a good job of it.
Moores has won plenty of doubters over before. One council member in San Diego who initially opposed his plan for a new stadium in the city is now one of his biggest allies.
But I’ll admit, there are two pictures being painted of Moores that don’t seem to tie up.
Is he the ruthless investor making money at the expense of the public, who is only in it for a decent profit and is so sensitive to criticism he can order a plaque in his honour taken down because he didn’t like what a student newspaper once wrote about him?
Or is he the generous philanthropist whose mum used to read him compassionate Bible stories and who, as a result, has given millions to good causes, rescued a baseball team and two Universities, made a spectacular success of redeveloping a run-down area of a big city, and whose main motivation is to fulfil a lifelong dream of owning a football club?
The truth, as always, is probably somewhere in between.
He spent 18 years as owner of the San Diego Padres, who were widely regarded as a basket case before he took over from Tom Werner, now chairman of Liverpool.
In that time he took them to the World Series for only the second time in their 47-year history. Four of the only five West Division titles they have ever won came during his time as owner.
One US journalist told me that’s like taking Watford and turning them into repeated contenders for the Premier League title.
It may not have ended in San Diego quite how Moores wished. Those who were there when he finally said goodbye say there were tears in his eyes.
But he had just been through a messy divorce from his childhood sweetheart, who shared 50 per cent of his majority shareholding in the team, making a sale almost inevitable.
So those who say he has unfinished business as an owner may have a point. But there is almost certainly more than one reason why he wants to buy Everton.
When he bought the Padres, he said: “I did it to have fun. My goal is to stabilise the club financially so that it can be competitive on the field and accepted in the community. We’re here for the long haul, and it helps that we’re using my money and not someone else’s. We can look at it from a longer viewpoint than someone who’s borrowed money from investors expecting a quick return.”
If all of that applies to Everton, it doesn’t sound too bad.