Tag: Watford

Watford’s Big Picture Problems

The take-over of an English football club by the owner of an Italian club passed somewhat quietly on account of the European Championships but, as Paul Grech, writes Watfords tie-in with Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo might just end up having a significance that reaches some way beyond Vicarage Road. As the two nations’ teams faced each other in one of the lesser balanced games of Euro 2012’s quarter final line up, another piece of business involving English and Italian football went by practically unnoticed. By buying a majority stake in Watford, Italian Giampaolo Pozzo became the latest foreign owner of an English club and, in that respect, this piece of news merited the lack of attention that it received. What makes it remarkable is that Pozzo is also the owner of Serie A side Udinese. Pozzo’s achievements in Udine have been nothing short of remarkable. A team that was constantly yo-yoing between Serie A and B was transformed into one of the more stable sides at the top of Italian football; one capable of two consecutive Champions League qualification slots despite spending a fraction of what is available to the country’s traditional giants. This has been achieved through one of the finest scouting networks allied with a scatter-gun approach of signing promising players irrespective of their nationality (but as long as they don’t cost too much). It is a...

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Watford FC: Laurence Bassini Is Unwell

 I was still researching Watford owner Laurence Bassini’s last no-show at a fans’ forum when the headline “Watford owner to face fans’ Q&A” appeared on the BBC Football website’s homepage. By the time I’d done my research and clicked onto the story itself, Bassini had “no-shown” again. It is remarkable and depressing the lengths to which some fans will go to justify actions taken by their own club and/or its owners. Even the otherwise largely unimpeachable David Conn pulls the occasional punch when detailing his club Manchester City’s grotesque distortion of the Premier League’s economy and ‘free’ market.  But in the face of some very stiff competition, some Watford fans have taken the proverbial biscuit with their willingness to overlook a business past and present which displays no signs of the required fitness or propriety to run a Football League Championship club. The Watford owner formerly known as Lawrence Bazini was an unsuccessful businessman and declared bankrupt, reduced by his business failings to claiming benefits as recently as 2008. The bankruptcy made him change his name to Laurence Bassini – not, of course, by way of cunning disguise, because that would be ridiculous (although before he was exposed by a reader of the local Watford Observer (WO) newspaper, some fans were fooled). But: “…to have a fresh start,” which, actually, was scarcely less ridiculous. So unfit and improper was...

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After Notts County: England’s Club Owners. Are They Any Good?

“Are they any good?”  It’s a simple question. And it is in the top one of questions supporters should ask of bidders for football clubs. But, as the BBC’s flagship documentary programme Panorama revealed this week, no-one at Notts County was asking the question while the club was being taken over by ‘Munto Finance.’ Or any question at all for that matter. Not that supporters of other clubs going through ownership ‘issues’ have any reserved seats on the moral high ground. There were many lessons to be learned from Panorama about the need for supporter vigilance and scrutiny of their clubs’ owners and executives. Among some fan bases, those lessons have been ignored. Birmingham City’s appearances in the headlines since their stunning Carling Cup final triumph have been as much about their dismal finances as their dismal form. Hong Kong’s stock exchange regularly features announcements about Birmingham International Holdings, City’s parent company. And they are usually about money lost, money borrowed or money not raised. Yet some Blues fans are convinced of “an anti-Blues and anti-Chinese agenda” in the midst of our national football press. While others suggest the Premier League is probing City’s finances because of Uefa’s ‘pro-Liverpool’ bias. Meanwhile, Watford’s takeover, now all-but-complete, continues to turn logic apex-over-elbow, with some supporters refusing to acknowledge new owner Laurence Bassini’s demonstrable business inabilities. “You can’t judge a book by...

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Odd Goings-On At Blackburn And Watford

There was a rumour circulating recently that Watford Football Club were in takeover negotiations with someone who had neither changed his name nor had a troubled business and financial background. These were quickly dismissed as nonsense. And though it is being too kind to take full notice of what potential Watford owner Laurence Bassini has to say about… ANYthing, it was certainly worth a second look at what he said about his putative involvement with Blackburn Rovers, and how “I was offered Blackburn Rovers, as Jerome Anderson is a good friend of mine.” The Lancashire Telegraph newspaper interpreted this as Bassini being offered the club BY “agent Jerome Anderson,” which isn’t quite what the wannabe Watford supremo said. However, what he did say was enough to get fans up in even more arms than ever before about Anderson’s true role at Ewood Park over the last year. Or at least it should have been. Alas, of the 40-odd comments the article received from Telegraph readers, 36 were a sectarian Burnley/Blackburn argument which was childish and pointless even for a ‘web warrior’ offering. Only four readers thought even as much as “hang on a minute” about a players’ agent’s suggested involvement in seeking a buyer for their club. Maybe Blackburn fans are suffering from lunacy-fatigue and are just pleased that the team is playing football again after months of rollerball...

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2010: A Football Financial Review

You could frame it. If you wanted a short, pithy representation of all that has been wrong with football finance in 2010, you could do no better than quote a Plymouth Argyle fan known as “Sensible Surfer” on the BBC Football website over the Christmas period. “Ridsdale set to take control… good news,” he/she said, a phrase which would sit nicely as an explanation of irony…except that it didn’t appear to BE irony. And it served as fair comment on Argyle’s current state that, relatively, Peter Ridsdale – the failed former Leeds and Cardiff chairman and serial over-borrower – IS good news for the cash and panic-stricken South Westerners, with the heaviest possible emphasis on the word ‘relatively.’ If professional football entered 2010 in a state of moral and financial bankruptcy, it is leaving it in much the same manner. Certain football problems have been “solved.” Some more have emerged. While others, hello Portsmouth, look set to run forever. The “greater fool” theory still underpins much of the game’s financial strategies. The theory is about as scientific as it sounds – buying something in the belief that you will be able to sell it again for a higher price (to a “greater fool”), regardless of what has happened in the meantime (increased debts, usually), or even whether the original price was rooted in reality. Finding a “greater fool” is...

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