Laurence Bassini insists all transfer money has stayed inside Watford's accounts
Watford owner Laurence Bassini insists he has “never taken a penny out of the club” and that all transfer money received during his tenure has remained in the Hornets’ accounts.
The Golden Boys are on the verge of being taken over by the Pozzo family, who own Italian side Udinese and Spanish club Granada.
Bassini bought Watford for £440,000 last summer but claims to have put £8m to £10m of his own money into the club, alongside the millions received in transfer funds.
During his reign at Vicarage Road, Bassini set up a transfer account alongside the club’s usual account.
Money from the transfer account would be put into the club’s usual account when needed.
The Stanmore businessman insists he has not received any money from either account and that the funds from the transfer account will remain with the Hornets following his pending departure.
Bassini told the Watford Observer: “The money from that account (transfer account) stays with the club. It always has. I have never taken any money out of the club. The only money I will have received is from the takeover money.”
The Hornets owner has denied claims he was being forced out of the club by their bondholders for an ‘event of default’ in the offer document from the takeover.
The bondholders are still entitled to in excess of £7.5m and annual payments are due every March, as well as quarterly interest payments.
Bassini stated several weeks ago that he wanted to pay off the bondholders and the club’s £1m overdraft. But until he pays off the money owed, he still needs to abide by certain covenants and events of default which were in the offer document.
Sources told the Watford Observer the Pozzo family were not planning on spending much buying the club and wanted to make a similar bond repayment agreement.
However, Bassini described this as “rubbish” and claims he will be receiving in excess of £12m for the club.
The Watford Observer understands the Pozzo family – father Giampaolo and son Gino – will have a number of investors alongside them as part of the takeover.
We also believe former West Ham United chief executive Scott Duxbury has been part of the negotiation team working for the Pozzo family.
It is unclear whether Duxbury will take on a CEO role at Vicarage Road following the takeover, but we do expect former West Ham technical director Gianluca Nani to have a role with the Hornets.
Duxbury and Nani worked together at West Ham, alongside Gianfranco Zola, who has been linked with the manager’s position at Vicarage Road.
Duxbury resigned from West Ham in January 2010 following the club’s takeover. He was criticised for his role in the Carlos Tevez affair which cost the Hammers £30m.
Alongside the money Bassini claims he will receive, we also understand he may be given the Red and Yellow Lion pub in Vicarage Road, which is owned by the Hornets and reopened this year.
The Watford owner confirmed this may be the case.
He replied: “The pub is still in the club’s ownership at this moment in time. The answer is I do not know. We will see. I have spent £500,000 of my personal money on the pub so I will make the decision.”
He added: “There was a valuation of the pub made and I paid that money into the club’s account and I haven’t had it back so I have been offered the pub as part of the deal.”
However, the duo will remain as directors of the club (Watford Association Football Club Limited) There are three companies currently in use relating to the ownership of the club. Watford Association Football Club Limited is the club itself, Watford Leisure is the holding company which has been in use for many years and Watford FC Limited was set up by Bassini to take over the club.
The Watford Observer understands Fransen and Timperley's removal as directors of Watford Leisure is because the holding company will remain in Bassini’s control following the takeover by the Pozzo family, which is still set to take place.
On the duo’s removal, Bassini said: “Now I don’t have to keep contacting them regarding the sale. It makes it easier.
“People are going to say things but I don’t want either of those men to have a black mark against their names. They are great guys.
“They will still be advising me and helping me but I can’t keep asking them to leave meetings elsewhere every five minutes.”
Bassini also added: “If the club needs any money in the future then I am happy to lend them a couple of million, like David Fransen did.”
There have been bitter divisions within the club itself and these came to a head last week when Police were called to the ground following an incident relating to access to the club safe.
On Monday, June 11 the Stanmore businessman went to Vicarage Road and requested the keys to the safe but it is understood a senior member of staff refused to release them.
The Hornets owner then suspended the employee and the police were called to remove the person from the premises, although no arrest was made and the Police described it as a “civil matter”.
Bassini confirmed: “I asked for my keys to the safe. It is my safe.
“The employee wouldn’t give them to me. I suspended that person and had the employee escorted from the building by the police.”
While Bassini confirmed this incident had taken place, he rubbished suggestions HM Revenue and Customs is currently investigating the club for unpaid taxes and National Insurance contributions.
After the Watford Observer went to press last Thursday evening, Bassini said: “Utter nonsense. Where are you getting this? There is no truth, it is nonsense.”
HMRC has refused to confirm whether an investigation is taking place due to confidentiality reasons.
Bassini has split opinion among staff at Watford since his arrival in March 2011 and upset many when former chief executive Julian Winter and his deputy Michael Jones departed last summer.
Employees were upset further last month when their wages were not paid on the usual date and they were not informed of the delay until the day they expected to have the money in their accounts.
Bassini rejected the suggestion employees had been paid “late, stating: “In the contracts, wages need to be paid around the end of the month. They were paid on the 30th.”
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.