Watford’s chief executive Scott Duxbury says he is “finally starting to understand what makes the club tick” and insists the Hornets will retain their own identity despite the influx of foreign arrivals from Udinese.
The change in personnel at Vicarage Road, both on the pitch and off it, has been substantial, with a whole new backroom team, 16 summer signings and several office staff leaving the club.
While the Golden Boys are owned by the Pozzo family, the men leading the club now are CEO Duxbury and technical director Gian Luca Nani, who worked together at West Ham United and took the proposal of buying Watford to the Italian family.
Duxbury has been in charge of the Hertfordshire club for four months, although by his own admission “it feels like longer”, and says he is settling in well.
Speaking to the Watford Observer on Thursday morning, Duxbury said: “I feel now that I am finally starting to understand what makes the club tick.
“For me the turning point was the Open Day in August, which was a fantastic day. The amount of children and families that were at the event was just remarkable. I was there with Gian Luca and we were walked around for hours just watching everybody have a good time.
“I was taking pictures on my iPhone and sending them back to Gino Pozzo and he was like ‘wow’,” he continued. “It gives you complete confidence in the future because this club can be massive without losing our identity. Gino gets that and sees what we need to be doing.
“That day focused my mind that this really is a family club. Lots of clubs say they are a family club but our core value is family and that day really demonstrated what we are about. It translates to the staff here as well. There are people who have been here a long time and understand the club and where we need to go.
“We need to be self sufficient, we need to be successful and move the club forward, but not at the expense of losing our core values. Everything I am trying to do involves trying to retain the core values.
“When Gino Pozzo bought the club, he said ‘yes, we are part of a group but each club retains their own identity’. There isn’t a group stamp on it. Yes, we use their resources but we have our own identity.
“The question when we came in was what is our identity? Now I am starting to understand it.
“I want this club to be in the Premier League and competing,” Duxbury added. “But I want to keep what is wonderful about this football club. That is probably what I have learned most in the last three or four months.”
Duxbury was chief executive at West Ham during a difficult period, which included the Carlos Tevez affair that reportedly cost the club £30m. He resigned from his position at the East London club in January 2010, just a couple of weeks after the arrival of David Gold and David Sullivan.
When asked about the differences between running West Ham and Watford, Duxbury said: “I don’t think it is healthy to look back and do comparisons. All I can say is that you learn through your experiences, good and bad, and I am a better chief executive now because of those experiences. Gian Luca Nani is a better technical director because of those experiences.
“Through many years of running a Premier League club, I have learned a lot and I am confident that I can help in a small way to drive this football club forward and deliver an experience for the supporters that is second to none.
“It is an amazing football club, it really is, and we all need to work hard to get the club to where it needs to be and I am confident we can do that.”
Duxbury stressed it is not former managers and players who are the “embodiment” of Watford, describing them as “transient”, but the supporters and the family ethos of the club.
There has been considerable change among the office staff in recent months, with commercial director Raj Athwal, head of marketing Leigh Brooks and Neil Price, who was part of the sales team, all leaving the club.
Duxbury restructured the way the Hornets operate and there have been two “primary” additions to the commercial side of the club; with Alan McTavish arriving from Glasgow Rangers as head of partnerships and former Leyton Orient employee Chris Pope heading up the match day sales department.
Martine Capitelli, who helped looked after corporate guests, has been given a more senior role and head of media Richard Walker now has a wider remit.
Duxbury explained: “When I came in I noticed that one individual was in charge of five or six areas of the business and there didn’t seem to be any strategic directional growth within each area of the business.
“I have come in and separated the divisions, creating clear heads for each area in retail. Whether it is partnership or corporate sales, we want strategic direction in each area of the business.
“The people I have brought in are not just charged with increasing revenues, which is something we obviously need to do, it is also about increasing the supporter experience and delivering a product – for want of a better word – that is better than we have been delivering.”
He continued: “I have a team in place now that I am really confident in. We have a good mix of people who have been here for a while and new people with new ideas.
“I am confident that over the coming years we will make this football club a club who are challenging, a club people respect and a club the supporters are proud of.”
- Adult tickets for tomorrow’s home game with Millwall are £19, or £24 in the Upper Rous, if they are purchased in advance of the game. Also, two adult and two under-16 tickets in the Family Stand cost £40 for the next five home games, although Duxbury has indicated that scheme may be extended for the rest of the season if successful.