Hornets' High Court battle: Watford FC appeared to be 'moneyspinner' for Bassini (From Watford Observer)
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Court hears Watford FC was considered a 'moneyspinner' for former owner Laurence Bassini
Watford FC appeared to be a “huge money-spinner” for the company of former Hornets owner Laurence Bassini, a court heard.
Accounts kept by Katie Wareham, the club’s head of finance, showed the Stanmore businessman’s company, Watford FC Limited, was around £4 million up when his tenure ended.
But the barrister for company LNOC, Jonathan Davies-Jones QC, said Watford FC Limited accounts showed it was £400,000 out of pocket when Mr Bassini’s reign ended.
Former Watford FC owner Laurence Bassini.
He said: “The impression I am left with when I get to the end of [Mrs Wareham’s witness statement] is the whole venture was a huge money-spinner for Watford FC Ltd.”
Mrs Wareham answered: “That is what it appears from the transactions as they work out. They suggest surplus funds in Watford FC Ltd at the end of its accounts.”
She said she treated the £3.5million Mr Bassini had promised to invest in the club when he purchased Watford as “a given” in her accounts.
Mr Davies-Jones later argued: “In the fact of ‘cash in, cash out’ the net effect of this is that Watford FC Ltd is out of cash to the tune of £413,000 not in funds to the tune of £4.2million.”
The court heard on Tuesday Mrs Wareham had been responsible for recording transactions between the club, Watford Association Football Club Limited and Mr Bassini’s parent company.
During Mr Bassini’s tenure at Watford FC, Mrs Wareham challenged a number of payments he wanted to make out of the club.
She said: “In summer 2011, I was asked to send some money out that I thought would be in breach of our loan agreement. I was told to do as Angelo (Barrea, Mr Bassini’s advisor) said or I would get a letter.”
The court heard on February 7, 2012, Mrs Wareham queried a £900,000 payment she was asked to make, which she was told was for LNOC.
She added: “It was very usual to be asked to make a payment of that magnitude without the appropriate paperwork.”
Mrs Wareham then sent an email to Mr Bassini saying there was not enough money in the club’s accounts to cover the cheque.
He emailed back, saying funds would be transferred over to cover the transaction.
The cheque later bounced because there were indeed insufficient funds.
During her evidence, Mrs Wareham argued the club did not need the extra cash funds Mr Bassini was arranging through future funding deals.
The court heard that in the summer of 2011 the club received a number of transfer payments, including a sum for winger Will Buckley, around £1 million relating to Ashley Young, £1.7million from Danny Graham’s Swansea move and a compensation sum for former manager Malky Mackay.
Ashley Young playing for the Hornets April 2006.
The payments went to Mr Bassini’s company Watford FC Limited, which held the club’s transfer account at the time.
The court heard the player transfer account was moved back over to Watford AFC Ltd later that year.
Mrs Wareham added: “In terms of the South- West Corner development needing to be done, I am not sure I am best placed to comment.
“The South-West Corner work was not done – and still isn’t – so in terms of the club needing to borrow money to put it at risk when it has not done it, I don’t know if I am best placed to comment.”
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