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Former West Ham United CEO Scott Duxbury explains why the Pozzos bought Watford
The Pozzos may be the family with their name above the door but it will be former West Ham United duo Scott Duxbury and Gian Luca Nani who will be running the club on a daily basis.
The Watford Observer caught up with the Hornets’ new chief executive this week to discuss how he arrived at Vicarage Road.
Duxbury has spent most of his adult life involved in football after qualifying as a lawyer. He worked with former Manchester United director Maurice Watkins at James Chapman and Co and was seconded to the Red Devils.
He ended up moving to West Ham and worked his way from legal advisor to chief executive, when he worked closely with Nani and Gianfranco Zola.
After leaving the Hammers in January 2010 following the club’s takeover, Duxbury joined Sydney Rovers as the newly-founded club attempted to secure a spot in the A-League, unsuccessfully.
Duxbury returned to England to head up a sports practice and it was then that he met Gino Pozzo.
The Pozzos were keen to buy an English club following the success of Granada and after discussing several possibilities, the family decided Watford were the “perfect project”.
Duxbury said: “It is exactly the model the Pozzos were looking for. It can be considered a London club, it has great history and - ironically as it annoys the fans - the fact the stand has not been developed is seen as a positive because they know they can make a big impact.
“The family can develop the club, they can increase revenues and can help Watford grow.”
Talk of buying Watford began around six months ago and negotiations started in March.
The suggestion that Watford is a London club is something of a touchy subject with a lot of supporters, considering the side are based in Hertfordshire, but the link with the capital was a huge positive for the Pozzos.
Duxbury explained: “The Pozzos were quite clear that they wanted a London club because they saw that as a real attraction in terms of signing players and growing.
"There were other clubs they spoke to but none really had the history of Watford and quite frankly the potential.
“If you look at the balance sheet of Watford, what people would see as a negative – in terms of certain incomes being low – Gino sees as a positive, because he believes with the club’s fan base, Watford can grow.
"He has done it before. He has seen it at Udinese and he has seen it at Granada. It is quite reassuring for me, and it should be for the Watford fans, that he knows the template for success. That is why he chose Watford.
"The Pozzos are here for the long term and they just don't fail. Also what the Pozzos don't do is just sign an influx of foreign players. They try to keep the identity of the club, so I think Watford fans should be really encouraged.
“I know there is always caution when there is change and there is always caution with foreign ownership, but the Pozzos really get the individuality of clubs.
“Udinese is a really small town on the outskirts of Italy. It is unfashionable and it is small. They should not be competing in the Champions League but it is only because of the expertise of the Pozzos and the infrastructure they have developed that they are doing it year in and year out.
“They have bought Watford solely so it can become an established Premier League club. They are not putting a time frame on that, but I am extremely confident it is just a matter of when, and not if. That is what we are all working towards.”
Duxbury has assumed a similar role at Watford to the one he held at West Ham, where he was criticised for his part in the Carlos Tevez affair.
The Pozzos are the club’s owners and son Gino will be the one who is more involved than his father Giampaolo.
But it will be the trio of Duxbury, Nani and Zola who will run the club, on and off the pitch.
Duxbury said: “Their whole philosophy is that they believe in the men they put in place and they are there to provide support.
“If we need their support with regards to money, we will get it. If we need their support with scouting networks, players and commercial know-how, then they are very much there for us in a supporting function, rather than interfering in the day-to-day running of the club.
“They leave the management to myself, Gian Luca and Gianfranco, but we know they are always there if we need help and support.”
There will be more from the Hornets’ new chief executive in next week’s Watford Observer.