Under-fire Page 'low' as fans turn on Wales boss

The Watford statement added that the offer was in the form of digital equity which offered a share in the club but also "perks surrounding matchday experiences and beyond."

Watford have denied that their offer to sell shares to fans is “rescue capital”.

The club responded to a statement from the Watford Supporters Trust which expressed concerns that their bid to raise £17.5million by offering a 10% stake to supporters raised questions about the Hornets’ “financial stability”.

The Championship club said when they went public with the idea this week that the sale would “offer true ownership to fans and investors alike”.

The Trust, however, fears the strategy has been prompted by a failure to secure investment from other parties.

The Trust also claims the share arrangement does not give fans voting rights at annual general meetings or “basic levels of consultation by, or input to, the Board”.

The Championship club’s initial statement said that the sale of shares would “bolster revenue streams” and provide money to strengthen the playing squad.


‘Wider implications to financial stability’


Thursday’s statement from The Trust said: “While some supporters may view this as a way to help the club meet its immediate financial needs, the Trust have questions about the nature of this appeal for investment and the wider implications as to our club’s financial stability.”

Watford, who posted a pre-tax profit of £24.1 million for the past financial year, have had nine different managers since August 2020.

“While the club showed a substantial pre-tax profit in 2022-23 which was driven by player sales, we have a number of significant questions about the rationale and timing for this appeal for cash injection,” the Trust’s statement, externaladded.

“We strongly encourage the club to provide more detail on its current financial status in 2023-24, what has prompted the share sale now and specifically how funds will be allocated against business needs.”

In response a club spokesperson said Watford “had discussions with potential investors to strengthen the club yet, for a variety of reasons, these talks have not yet materialised into concrete investment. The door is certainly not closed to these discussions, but the club felt there were other avenues to explore.”

The Watford statement added that the offer was in the form of digital equity which offered a share in the club but also “perks surrounding matchday experiences and beyond.”

“This is not ‘rescue capital’,” it said.

“The club has budgeted for the forthcoming season, and we believe it will allow (manager) Tom Cleverley and his squad to be extremely competitive in the Championship with a return to the Premier League being the ultimate priority.”

The club said the scheme was aimed at “institutional investors, high net worth individuals and/or family offices.”

The statement concluded: “The end goal is to strengthen the financial position of the club and achieve on-the-pitch success, not to prop it up.

“The scheme also sets a strong value and profile for the club while opening up channels to traditional and non-traditional investors that have not previously been explored.”

Original article published 06.06.2024 on the BBC Sport website.

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