Jimmy Russo has contacted his lawyers after Watford legend Graham Taylor called the former Hornets’ chairman a “bad man” for the way he conducted himself following his resignation last week.

Russo resigned as Watford chairman prior to last Tuesday’s annual meeting (AGM) after finding out he was set to be voted off the board by fellow major shareholders Lord Michael Ashcroft and Graham Simpson.

Russo immediately demanded repayment of the £4.88m his Valley Grown Salads (VGS) company lent the club and threatened to call the administrators if he was not paid by the following Thursday afternoon.

In a TV interview, Russo claimed he had not become a “bad man” overnight and Taylor, who is currently interim chairman, responded by saying: “I saw an interview with Jimmy and he said he has not become a bad man overnight. I accept there is always more than one side to a story.

"But Jimmy, you walked into the AGM earlier this week, nobody knew what you were going to do, you resigned, you demanded immediately your £4.88m, payable within 48 hours. That’s when you did become a bad man. It was not in the interests of Watford Football Club.”

The remark resulted in Russo contacting his lawyers and on Tuesday, he said: “I am deeply disappointed by the comments that Graham made and he has also had time to retract his statement and chosen not to do so, so he left me no option but to place the matter in the hands of my lawyers.”

As the Watford Observer went to press, the Hornets’ board, which includes Taylor, were in negotiations regarding the club’s future and no one from Watford was able to comment on Russo’s decision to contact his lawyers.

Watford seemed destined for administration at the end of last week when Russo and his brother Vince rejected Lord Ashcroft’s 11th-hour offer to underwrite a £7.5m rights issue.

VGS rejected the proposal as it would have involved them investing more money just to maintain its near 30 per cent stake in the Hornets’ parent company, Watford Leisure Plc.

Russo believes Watford should be owned by one individual but the board seemed to reject his proposal to purchase the club in favour of Lord Ashcroft’s rights issue.

The former Watford chairman insists he never had a “burning desire” to own the club as he does not believe his “pockets are deep enough”, but claims he put the proposal forward in an attempt to save the club from administration.

Russo said: “I am delighted that the club has been saved. But why did it take so long for other parties to come to the table?

“The steps I have taken recently have ensured that the club’s major shareholder has now injected new funds. We knew it would be right for the club.”

Along with the £4.88m he loaned Watford, Russo has also invested £4m in shares, only to see their value diminish.

He added: “Of course I still love the club. You cannot just give something six years of your life and then hate it. You can’t.

“It was an enormous privilege to be chairman of the club and I think I did a good job. I am convinced that I could have done an even bigger and better job over a longer period of time.”

Russo has previously stated he believes members of the board knew he was going to be voted off the board at last week’s AGM but failed to inform him.

Watford’s former chairman concluded: “My conscience is crystal clear.”