Laurence Bassini confirms Udinese owners the Pozzo family set to take over Watford
Watford owner Laurence Bassini has confirmed he expects to sell the club and that it could happen within the next 48 hours.
Bassini had previously denied a takeover was on the cards but he has this evening spoke exclusively to the Watford Observer and confirmed he does expect to sell to the family that own Italian club Udinese.
Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo has been linked with the Hornets since February but we understand his son Gino is more likely to be the one involved with the running of the club should the takeover happen.
Bassini said: “I can’t confirm that I will definitely leave because I do not know if they have the money for definite. If they do then it could be in the next 48 hours.”
Bassini looks set to leave the Hornets after 15 months and claims there are three other interested parties should the Pozzo family pull out of the deal at the 11th hour.
The Pozzo family own Italian side Udinese and Spanish team Granada and Bassini claims that was a factor.
He said: “He owns two football clubs and has 100 players to pick from and I think that will be a good thing for Watford.”
Bassini took over the club in March last year but insisted his early departure had nothing to do with pressure from the bondholders, and more to do with family.
He said: “I have been here 14 months and I do not see my daughter at the weekends. I like to do everything with her and she doesn’t like football so that is a massive reason [in deciding to sell].”
Bassini claimed the Pozzos had asked him to stay on as a director for six months but he declined.
We understand Bassini had a falling out with Andrew Wilson, the representative of bondholder Lord Ashcroft, and that Wilson claimed the Watford owner had activated an event of default in the offer document relating to the payment of interest.
However, Bassini denies this and insisted all the bondholder payments, which are due each March, and the interest payments are up to date.
He said: “No one has encouraged me to sell and David Fransen said if I didn’t want to sell then I didn’t have to.
“I knew a while ago that I wanted to leave but it had to be to the right person.
“I am not leaving because I should be or because I have been advised to leave. It just takes up too much of my life.”
Bassini claims the Pozzo family will need around £20m to complete the takeover. Just over £7.6m will be needed to pay off the bondholders and the Stanmore businessman claims that he will receive around £12m for the club.
He paid less than half a million pounds for his initial shareholding in the club 15 months ago but claims to have spent between £8m and £10m during his time at Vicarage Road.
Bassini again reiterated “he hasn’t had a penny out of the club” and also claimed to have paid a few members of staff from “his own pocket”.
“You can ask (board members) Stuart Timperley and David Fransen; I never took a penny,” Bassini said.
“The club have done very well in the last year, it is stable and now they are in a good place.
“I have done a lot of work there; they have a new pitch, new seating, tannoy system and the pub. We also signed 11 new players.
“But running a club is a full time job and I want to spend time with my daughter.
“I love the club and the fans. It is a great club and I will continue to support it.”
The Watford Observer understands some businesses had cheques from Watford FC declined in recent weeks.
Bassini claimed it was because he froze the accounts due to the in-fighting behind the scenes.
According to the Hornets owner, he lodged £5m with lawyers so the club could pay its bills but he wanted a debenture to ensure he would not lose the money should he be forced out.