Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Pressure mounts on Watford FC owner Laurence Bassini as Pozzo takeover moves a step closer
Watford FC are in turmoil behind the scenes while there are claims owner Laurence Bassini is coming under increasing pressure to sell the club, the Watford Observer understands.
There has been speculation the club's bond holders are attempting to force through the sale of the club with Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo the front runner.
Meanwhile, there are 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, Bassini 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.
Bassini confirmed this was the case when asked by the Watford Observer. He said: "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 on Thursday evening, Bassini stated: "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 the the money was expected 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."
As for the immediate and long term future of Watford, sources have told us Bassini is under pressure to sell the club by its bondholders, who are Lord Ashcroft, former chairman Graham Simpson and director David Fransen.
Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo expressed his interest in taking over Watford in February and the Watford Observer understands he remains keen on the Hornets.
However, on Thursday Bassini claimed: "The bondholders cannot take the club from me. I own the club. It is all nonsense.
"There are four people that are bidding for the club. Everything is for sale at a price but I don’t want to sell."
On Pozzo, he added: "That was back in February, not now. He is not interested now. He is looking at other things."
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.
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 from Bassini’s takeover last year.
In the 84-page offer document, it lists a number of covenants and events of default, which include a number of points such as the termination of Graham Taylor or Stuart Timperley as a director, not paying within five business days indebtedness (excluding trade creditors) in excess of £100,000 and ceasing or threatening to cease to carry on its business.
The document states that if an event of default takes place then money owed can be declared immediately payable.
The bondholders can waive an event of default if they wish but should they decide to act, then Lord Ashcroft could enforce the 'Issuer Security or the Guarantor Security'. This relates to security packages which were set up between Lord Ashcroft and the club as part of the initial bondholder agreement in 2010.
It states Watford Leisure Plc and Watford Association Football Club Limited "has charged to the Security Trustee (Lord Ashcroft) for the benefit of the Secured Parties all its property, assets and undertaking with the payment and discharge of all moneies and liabilities therein referred to."
Click here for more information on the bondholder agreement.
Comments are closed on this article.