Graham Simpson has resigned as chairman of Watford Football Club.
Simpson broke the news to shareholders of the Hornets’ parent company, Watford Leisure Plc, this morning, who had attended what was expected to be an emergency meeting where the chairman and the other two members of the club’s board were set to face a vote of no confidence.
However, the packed meeting was delayed by more than 20 minutes, while representatives of the club and former directors Jimmy and Vince Russo held behind closed doors discussions that appear to have resulted in the chairman’s decision to quit.
Although Simpson cited “everything that is happening at the moment” as the reasons why he had decided to stand down - and he later confirmed he was also standing down as a director - no specific explanation was given.
Director Andrew Wilson has taken over as interim chairman, but chief executive Mark Ashton’s long-term future at Vicarage Road is unclear.
Simpson said: “This may come as a little bit of a surprise – I don’t think it will be a surprise for everybody – but for me personally, over the last few months, this has been a very difficult time.
“I’ve enjoyed my stay as chairman immensely but I do feel in the event of everything that is happening at the moment and after discussing with my fellow directors that now is the time I should stand down as chairman of Watford Football Club.”
This announcement was greeted with applause by some shareholders present, to which the out-going chairman responded: “I understand the applause and I accept that you’re pleased.
“I’ll hope you’ll also bear in mind that if I have made mistakes I sincerely apologise. I have always done, and that’s the most important thing for me, the very best, or I believe to be the best for the club. Nobody gets it right all the time and I sincerely apologise to anyone who I may have offended by doing the wrong thing.
“We’ve had a discussion with Jimmy and Vince and they are withdrawing their motion [of no confidence] which I think is good for the club. That’s the important thing...what is most important for all of us here is that we’re shareholders and we love Watford Football Club.”
Asked about Ashton's future, Simpson said: "We've heard what I've decided to do today, there will be some restructuring in the board.
"I think it's very unfair for Mark to comment on himself, at this moment in time. That's something that he will deliberate on in the next few weeks, months or whatever and it's not fair for me to do so [comment].