Mark Ashton is on the brink of a return to football, the Watford Observer understands.

The former Watford chief executive has been out of the game since he resigned his post at Vicarage Road in December in the wake of Graham Simpson’s decision to step down as chairman, but sources have told this newspaper that he is due to take up the same post at Wycombe Wanderers on Monday.

It is thought Ashton’s imminent appointment as chief executive with the League Two leaders has come as a result of his past dealings with Steve Hayes, Wycombe’s managing director and co-founder of the Hornets’ former shirt sponsors

Following his departure from Watford, Ashton was roundly criticised by fans.

Even the moderate Watford Supporters Trust expressed their disappointment at Ashton's tenure. In a statement issued at the time it highlighted the failure to develop the East Stand as their greatest concern during Ashton's reign at Watford.

It added: "In addition his reign has been littered with relationship breakdowns, repeatedly with the Watford Observer and frequently with former employees.

"The turnover of staff in senior positions was not indicative of a well-run organisation. There was also a lack of transparency in communication with the fans that has led to an atmosphere of mistrust.”

However, the Trust praised Ashton for introducing Aidy Boothroyd to the club and for a number of commercial and player deals.

In a blistering attack on Ashton’s reign, respected columnist Oliver Phillips said: Logic dictates there must be more than one person with a good word to say about Mark Ashton’s reign as Watford’s chief executive, but I have yet to meet them.”

And he quoted former club press officer Richard Walker, who told Watford’s mailing list following Ashton’s departure: “Hold your opinions as you will on the recent changes but be advised of one thing. This news is a very good thing for the club.

“Today, there are a lot of ex-employees – yes, myself included – who will feel there’s now a chance of the club they knew returning.”

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