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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Everton delay Russian deal
Everton could benefit from 20m of Russian investment
In order to ensure this proposal is in the best interests of the club it is only right I should examine it
Everton director Paul Gregg
Everton have been forced to delay the rubberstamping of a 20m investment by Anton Zingarevich, the 23-year-old son of a Russian billionaire.

Director Paul Gregg, a rival of chairman Bill Kenwright, has postponed a board meeting which was due to ratify Zingarevich's investment.

Gregg, who had his own 15m investment plan blocked by Kenwright, said he has not had time to view the new proposal.

Kenwright had hoped to seal the deal but must now arrange a new meeting.

Gregg, who had challenged Kenwright to find new investors, issued a statement saying he hopes to discuss the Zingarevich deal before it is signed.

He said: "In order to ensure this proposal is in the best interests of the club it is only right I should examine it.

"I must also have an opportunity to meet those proposed as directors so I can understand fully their ambitions for the club.

"The paperwork only arrived this morning and as soon as I have had a chance to look at the detail I will be in touch with Bill to reschedule the board meeting."

Zingarevich, whose father Boris owns Russia's largest paper manufacturer, is set to acquire a 40% controlling stake.

The younger Zingarevich, who was educated in London, owns the Fortress Sports Fund, based in Brunei.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said: "Anton is terrific. He's got an encyclopaedic football knowledge."

Reports naming Boris Zingarevich as the proposed principle new investor in Everton are incorrect
Everton statement

The club will not comment on Zingarevich's investment until the board meeting takes place but Kenwright is clearly impressed by the Russian.

Speaking to the Moscow Times, the Goodison chairman spoke of Zingarevich's "passion" for football and insisted the 20m investment would be used in the transfer market.

"It is the ambition of myself and the sports fund to return Everton to its former glory," Kenwright said.

"We've been tracking certain players throughout the summer. We hope to announce who within the next 10 days."

It was claimed in a newspaper report on Sunday that Boris Zingarevich was the 20m investor but Everton moved quickly to deny that.

"Reports naming Boris Zingarevich as the proposed principle new investor in Everton are incorrect," said a statement.

But the club did not deny that the son of Boris was behind the deal, and that is expected to be confirmed soon.

In all there are seven investors in the Fortress Sports Fund.

One of them, Christopher Samuelson, said of the Everton bid: "We will run the club as a business and not as an ego trip."

Samuelson is chief executive of Mutual Trust, and a former principal at Valmet.

That firm was part owned by Menatep, a holding company through which tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky controls the troubled Yukos Yuko.MM oil firm.

Kenwright last week issued a statement saying he had "received formal confirmation of an offer for 20m of new investment into the club via a new share issue".

The Goodison Park chairman has been involved in a public battle with Gregg, who called for Kenwright to raise some money or stand down.

Beleaguered Everton manager David Moyes, who lost 10 players over the summer and was only able to bring in four, will expect some of the new money to come his way.

Moyes could start by moving for Liverpool duo Djimi Traore and Steve Finnan.

The future of England striker Wayne Rooney could also be resolved once Zingarevich's investment is confirmed.

Rooney has yet to sign the five-year 50,000-a-week contract on offer and it is thought the 18-year-old is waiting to discover the outcome of the boardroom wrangle.

Everton are between 30m and 40m in debt, while the club's bankers have warned there will be no extension of the club's current 6m overdraft.

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