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Former Watford owner Laurence Bassini given club-owned pub as part of takeover
Laurence Bassini received the Yellow and Red Lion Pub as part of the Pozzos takeover but claims he is in discussions with a Watford fan over a long lease.
Bassini's 15-month reign as Watford owner ended last Friday after the Pozzos completed their takeover following several weeks of intense negotiations.
There were fears the deal could fall through towards the end of last week as the relevant parties worked into the early hours of Wednesday and Thursday in a bid to secure an agreement.
But the takeover was concluded in the early hours of Friday morning and announced that afternoon.
Bassini had previously stated he wanted £12m for the club but then retracted the comments last week.
None of the parties involved will disclose details regarding the sale but we understand Bassini received a seven-figure sum and the Red and Yellow Lion in Vicarage Road as part of the agreement.
We understand the ownership of the pub remains in Watford Association Football Club Limited’s name at present but that it is a matter of time before Bassini becomes owner.
Generations of Watford fans, and more lately Saracens rugby supporters, used the pub as a place to socialise before and after games but it was closed in 2006 after the club bought the premises.
But the Hornets renovated the pub earlier this year and reopened it in April on match-days. It then opened full time in June.
A spokesman for Laurence Bassini talked to the Watford Observer yesterday (Thursday) and stated that the club’s former owner was keen for the pub to remain open for Watford supporters.
Bassini is in discussions with an interested party and while his spokesman would not disclose who that person was, we understand it is Josh Price, who spent time at Watford as a youngster and has been the pub manager since it reopened.
A spokesman for Laurence Bassini said: “What we are hoping to do is lease the pub to somebody who will run it for the benefit of the supporters.
“We want to talk to people involved with the club and try to ensure it is run for the benefit of the Watford supporters and the club itself.
“We have interest from someone who is a Watford fan and we plan to lease the pub to him at a huge discount, so it continues to be a place for Watford supporters.
“The pub was given to Laurence as part of the takeover because I do not think the new owners were interested in running the pub.
“But it was rebuilt for the Watford supporters so we are discussing to a third party who are Watford fans so it can continue to be a fans pub.”
If an agreement is not made and Watford supporters decided to boycott the pub due to it no longer being in club hands, then Bassini would not be able to make it an “away pub” without changing the licensing agreement.
In the Yellow and Red Lion’s licence it states “during football days admission is restricted to home supporters”.