Watford to sell shares to fans to help fund transfers as it targets Premier League return

Tue, Jun 4, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Watford to sell shares to fans to help fund transfers as it targets Premier League return

WATFORD, England (AP) - English soccer team Watford has offered fans the chance to buy shares in the club in a bid to help sign new players and return to the Premier League.

The second-tier Championship club was last in the top flight in 2022 and was once owned by Elton John.

It is offering supporters the chance to buy a total stake of around 10% for a price that values the club at 175 million pounds ($224 million), saying the money will partly be used to fund transfers.

Watford said in a statement that an online platform with "vast experience in digital equity offerings" will handle sales "in either (pounds) or dollars with no necessity to purchase via cryptocurrency."

The club said it had been exploring investment opportunities and aimed to raise 17.5 million pounds ($22.4 million).

"Part of the funding will be channeled into recruitment to strengthen (manager) Tom Cleverley's playing squad as we seek a return to the Premier League," the club said.

Watford is owned by Italian businessman Gino Pozzo. Elton John bought the club in 1976, oversaw unprecedented success in the 1980s, and is now its honorary life president.

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The statement announcing the shares issue also warned fans of the risk in investing.

"Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest," Watford said. "This is a high risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong."

In 12 years of ownership by the Pozzo family, Watford has been promoted to the Premier League twice and relegated twice. It has made dozens of transfer deals with Italian club Udinese, which the family also owns, worth tens of millions of dollars.

Cleverley is the 21st different permanent or interim head coach hired by the Pozzo family at Watford. None of them have lasted two years in the job.

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