Watford owner Gino Pozzo has turned down a UK£125 million bid for more than a third of the Premier League club, according to The Times.
The offer from New York-based Prolific Media Holdings for a 35.7 per cent stake in the top-flight English soccer outfit values the Hertfordshire club at UK£350 million. The deal would have represented a huge profit for Pozzo, who purchased Watford six years ago for just UK£500,000, as well as committing UK£10 million to clear existing debts.
Watford’s parent company, Hornets Investment Limited entered into a 60-day exclusive negotiating period with Prolific earlier this summer. However, that period has recently expired, and The Times says talks stalled because of the English Football League’s (EFL) investigation into the forgery case involving former Watford chairman Raffaele Riva before the club eventually pulled the plug on the deal due to doubts over Prolific’s funding.
By entering into a negotiating period with Prolific, Pozzo has at least indicated that he is open to selling a minority stake in the club. Under the terms of the provisional agreement, Pozzo would have remained in charge of the day-to-day operations of the club while maintaining his role as chairman.
Prolific, meanwhile, would have gained the right to appoint an additional director to the club’s board. The majority of the media company’s current investments are in the music and film industries in keeping with the experience of the firm’s chief executive, RJ Bucaria.
Watford’s surge in value comes in the middle of the club’s best ever start to a Premier League season. The Hornets beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Sunday to stay third in the table with a perfect four wins from their opening four games.