Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has denied he has put the Premier League club up for sale.
The British-Iranian billionaire became Everton’s major shareholder in February 2016 but has not endeared himself to fans having wasted hundreds of millions on signings and managers.
Reports emerged on Tuesday that Moshiri is now willing to sell up and is looking for offers of more than £500million.
However, Moshiri is publicly insisting he is committed to Everton.
He admits he is speaking to investors to help fund the new stadium being built at Bramley-Moore Dock, but maintains he is not planning to cut ties with the Merseyside outfit.
He told the club’s Fan Advisory Board: “The club is not for sale but I have been talking to top investors, really quality, to bridge a gap on the stadium.
“I can do it myself and the reason I want to do it is to bring top sport investors to Everton. We are close to having a deal done. It is not selling the club at all. It is bringing more expertise in terms of sponsorship, commercial development and a lot of specialist sport investors have this pool of knowledge.
“The stadium is the best-performing area of our operation at the moment: on time, on budget. Once we get through the current underperformance fans can start dreaming with me.
“The stadium was never a luxury for Everton. For us, it was a necessity. If you want to start it today, the cost would be well in excess of £1.1 billion. This stadium lasts well past my tenure, well past our lives. It should be part of that hope for our fans to get us through this.”
More than £700m has been spent on more than 50 players in the Moshiri era, with just over £400m recouped in sales.
Their new stadium at the Bramley Moore Dock is currently under construction at a cost of at least £550m, the club’s last three available set of accounts showing combined losses of £372.6m.
Having overseen six permanent managers (and three caretaker managers), Everton have lacked stability during Moshiri’s premiership.
This, plus a number of poor signings, has seen the nine-time English champions go on a steady decline.
The Toffees narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League last season but find themselves in a relegation fight once again this term.
Moshiri and the Everton board didn’t attend the team’s last Premier League match at Goodison Park, a 2-1 defeat to relegation rivals Southampton, due to concerns over their safety.
He’s endured arguably his most chaotic week on Merseyside having sacked Frank Lampard as manager and is appearing to struggle to find a replacement amid reports Marcelo Bielsa is unsure about taking the post.
Commenting on the story Moshiri could sell the club, Dean Ashton told talkSPORT: “I’m pretty sure it’s what the Everton fans want, to have a change of ownership.
“Everton have got the players there, with the right manager to get out of the situation they’re in, it’s not as if they’re cut adrift. They’re right there with everybody else.”
Ashton added: “It shows what power the fans have. If you are Farhad Moshiri, why would you want to stay?
“Unless you felt like the return on your investment was there, with such a toxic atmosphere I wouldn’t want to stay either. I wouldn’t want to continue owning Everton if I basically couldn’t go to the ground.”
Everton’s next Premier League clash sees them face Arsenal on Saturday February 4, a match you can listen to live and exclusively on talkSPORT.