We all thought new investment would be coming, now it’s happening, and to be fair to Watford they’ve come up with something that few – if any – would have predicted.

It feels pretty snazzy to say your club are offering ‘digital equity’, though as a 50-something luddite who doesn’t understand TikTok and asks his sons for help with sorting the Sky box out, I’m not truly sure what it is I’m actually discussing.

Once you get past the initial hi-tech hyperbole and word salad though, it is basically your chance to pay £50 or more for a spin of the Watford wheel.

It does feel like a 21st century version of an old-school share issue, but instead of getting a nice piece of card with your name and share number on it (which in the case of recent share issues ends up being worth more than the actual shares), you buy yourself shares that are sat ‘in the ether’ and get some sort of token which you can use to get nice WFC-related benefits.

And that, in essence, is what Watford have said in the information they have supplied – it’s a chance to grab part of the 10% of the club that owner Gino Pozzo has made available.

(I’ve deliberately used grab rather than own, as I don’t feel that handing over my money and getting nothing actually constitutes ‘ownership’ of any part of the club).

The minimum investment of four shares costs less than £50, so it’s an offering that is probably affordable to most, though presumably the club are hoping to attract many investors interested in having considerably more than four shares.

Apparently this sort of thing is very popular in America, and by choosing a successful and trusted US partner in delivering this project, Watford are clearly looking to tap into that market.

However, with only 10% of the club being offered, and that 10% being split between a large amount of mutual investors, this isn’t a replica of what Birmingham City did a year ago where they sold 46% of the club to an American business which later received investment from NFL legend Tom Brady.

So, thankfully, we’re very unlikely to see any celebrities glad-handing their way round the perimeter of the Vicarage Road pitch shortly before kick-off at a home game, donning a Watford scarf and acting like they’d loved the club since birth.

Remember those days when Watford directors (who were fans to be fair), 25-odd years ago, used to walk round the back of the Rookery End goal before games, shaking hands with fans and milking the applause (which earned them the nickname ‘The Milkmen’)?!

This isn’t a takeover, and it isn’t going to see anyone new attending board meetings or getting involved in the day-to-day operations at Vicarage Road.

In fact, while the novelty of the idea and realisation of new income for Watford are both newsworthy and needed, the most interesting things are what is not happening.

First of all, the owner is not selling up. In fact, to my mind, this new investment opportunity pretty much shuts the door on that idea, at least in the short to medium term.

Getting £17.5m into the club coffers buys them some time. Certainly a year, possibly even more if they do well, before they need to think about where more money is coming from.

If the owner was going to sell, he’d have done so by now.

And if he really wanted to sell, he’d not put a £175m price tag on the club. I’m far from an expert in such matters, but people who know the finance world better tell me that valuing your business at around 1.5 times its revenue is a good place to start.

We know Watford generated revenue of £66m during the 2022/23 season, even if that figure contains the £30m received for Joao Pedro, which doesn’t happen every year.

Notwithstanding that, though, using the £66m figure with a 1.5 multiplier then a valuation of around £100m comes up on the calculator.

However, nobody selling anything (car, house, football club etc) puts a price on which they really think it’s worth. You add some on top, and expect to negotiate.

So pump that £100m up by 25% and you get to £125m. Less than the £262m valuation Ipswich realised recently, but more than the £77m price tag placed on Birmingham last season.

And given one of those teams went up and the other one went down, that rudimentary but realistic price of £125m for Watford seems reasonable.

However, the club are looking for £175m – and if you layer on the top the net debt the club has which any prospective buyer has to consider, then the valuation is going over £250m.

That’s eye-watering.

When Newcastle were sold to their Saudi Arabian owners in October 2021, the price was £305m and they were in the Premier League and playing to crowds of 52,000 at home, albeit they were sitting 19th in the table at that moment.

It’s been almost impossible to find anyone who thinks £175m is an accurate valuation since the announcement yesterday, and one problem for the owner may be that by putting a 10% portion of the club on the market which he values at £17.5m it means everyone will be able to see how the price of those shares change.

They could go up, and as that would most probably mean the Hornets have been promoted, then that’s great news for all.

But if the price of the shares being purchased now for £12.44 drop by a third to £8.28 in a year’s time, then the value of the full 10% of the club also falls from £17.5m to £11.8m.

And, consequently, that overall valuation of £175m has to drop to £118m, and suddenly the owner’s asking price has fallen by more than £50m.

For some time now Watford have been actively looking for new investment, using third parties to sound out various investment houses, pension funds and equity groups.

But none of those are going to dive in if they think the price is too plump. They are, after all, investors. They want to make money for their clients.

And while I’m not suggesting Watford can’t thrive, succeed and turn out to be a good investment, it’s more of a gamble if you think the initial price you’re paying is too high.

What has become clear is that the owner isn’t looking for one rich person, or a few rich people to come together, to take a minority stake in the club at the sort of 10% level being offered now.

Even at that relatively small level of equity, coughing up £17.5m in one lump is not something you’re going to do and then just walk away and leave it to somebody else.

It would mean having some sort of say in the club. Regular visits to London Colney. Attend board meetings.

Not even the most positive investor with immense powers of foresight is going to drop the best part of £20m in the Hornets account and pop back next year to see how things are going.

What would be interesting is if, in the course of launching this offering, Watford do find someone who actually does want to invest tens of millions – though the chances are after a long period of privately shouting they’ve not heard any echoes.

So the method Watford have decided upon to bring new investment means they get the money without really losing any degree of control.

No matter how many shares you purchase, you don’t get a vote on any decisions and you don’t have any sort of input into anything.

The club say a portion of the money realised from this equity offering will go towards supporting new head coach Tom Cleverley in player recruitment and retention.

While there will be some fans who doubt even that happening, the fact the club have spoken publicly about their plans and the need to support Cleverley is in itself something to feel somewhat positive about.

Communication hasn’t been Watford’s strong suit for some time, and there are plenty of clubs in this country whose owner/s not only stop putting money in, they refuse to accept the need for new funds and simply allow their club to fester and enter a death spiral.

This is a very public attempt to raise money, with a message about how some of it will be spent. That latter bit is easily scrutinised, and quickly too given the summer transfer window opens soon.

If this digital equity investment, directly or indirectly, allows Cleverley to keep players like Yaser Asprilla, offer a new deal to Wes Hoedt, and sign players permanently or on loan in the areas we all know need reinforcing, then that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?

Obviously, the key word in that sentence is the first one…

I accept that this news could be seen as kicking the can down the road. The club gets a cash injection, the owner doesn’t have to relinquish any control, the head coach sees a slight easing of the purse strings . . . but how long is that good for?

Will we need another one of these ideas in 12 months’? How many times can you go to the well of fans/small investors?

To those whose glass is half empty, this might appear like little more than a cyber whip-round with a whiff of desperation in the air.

I can understand that, given there is an ever-increasing gap of time between the days when Watford were bobbing around in mid-table of the Premier League and finishing 15th in the Championship last season with one home win after Christmas.

Nonetheless, something is better than nothing – but while it may buy time it won’t stop or prevent the scrutiny of the club on a day-to-day basis.

Indeed, with a share in the club worth £12.44 today, the fluctuations in that figure will be a barometer for how well it is performing.

With an owner who is owed about £50m by a club that ended last season far closer to relegation than it did to promotion, valuing said club at a good bit more than many people seem to think it’s worth, we’re not looking at major change coming soon.

So any progress is going to have to be incremental – the last head coach was given a lot longer than the half a dozen that preceded him; the new head coach is young, English and respected inside and outside of Vicarage Road; the owner has decided to release 10% of the club; some of that money will go towards strengthening the squad; coaching appointments at first team and Academy level this summer have been real ‘Watford people’.

Yes, that is the sound of straws being clutched at and, equally, I know we’ve had a number of false dawns in the past before the promised and hoped-for new ethos evaporated before us.

But we all support a club that has just finished in its worst league placing for 14 years, the days of spending £30m+ on a single player are well behind us, and we are now just another Championship club that is competing without the benefits of parachute payments.

And to those who say they already invest via purchasing season tickets, merchandise and so on, I agree. Then there’s the emotional investment of  being a fan, which is impossible to put a price on.

With a new kit being released this summer, for many fans there may come the choice: do I get the home shirt for £50ish, or do I purchase four digital equity shares?

I can’t sit here and say I think it’s a good or bad idea to invest in this new digital equity plan. Same as buying a season ticket or a shirt, it’s a free choice with your money.

We’re going to have to start somewhere though, and while this investment plan is not going to shift opinion about the owner and/or how the club has/is/will be run, in isolation it needs to be seen as a small step in a positive direction – even if there a distinct feeling of we’ve been here before and we’re back again because every route to new investment turned out to be a dead end.

If it helps Clevs to field a team next season that is competitive, that wins home games, that can score goals, that has a clear plan and a distinct approach, then it could prove to be quite clever.

If not, then the owner may find he has painted himself even further into a corner.