Gino Pozzo Owner of the Watford Football Club 60861 300x170 - Gino Pozzo: Owner of the Watford Football Club
August 4, 2022

Gino Pozzo is the current owner of the English Premier League football club in Watford, and one of the most respected people in the world of English football. His Italian family was very passionate about football, and he has been just as enthusiastic about the sport since he was very young. Gino was a huge fan of several Italian clubs, especially after his parents bought one during the mid-1980s with the income from their successful woodworking business.

Background

Gino earned a degree at Harvard Business School in the United States but found that he wasn’t interested in taking over the family woodworking business when he returned to Italy. The first football club that Gino’s father bought wasn’t doing well at the time, but he was able to turn it around. He did the same thing with a second club, so Gino decided he wanted to run a successful football club the way his father did.

Purchase

Gino moved to France and began looking for football clubs that he could afford, as his family had started an appliance company that was becoming very profitable. The Watford club went up for sale in 2012, and was just the type of club Gino was looking for. The previous owners had poorly managed the club, so he thought he could turn it around both on the pitch and financially. He knew that this would be a difficult challenge, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own a Premier League club.

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Gino bought the Watford Football Club Limited (WFCL) on June 29, 2012, and immediately decided he wasn’t going to be a passive owner. He wanted to make every major decision that would affect the club, so he moved his whole family to England, including his wife and two children. This was a big adjustment for them, but they grew to love British culture.

Challenges

The biggest challenge that Gino faced was that he didn’t have the budget needed to get the best players in the world. Competing clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have deep pockets and are able to spend virtually any amount needed to get the players they want. However, Gino felt that he knew enough about the way a football club should be run to turn Watford into a winning club. He also knew that reaching this goal would require a long-term commitment.

The WFCL also had about £9.1 million in debt at the time the Pozzo family acquired it. About £7 million of this total was owed to bondholders of Watford Leisure Limited. The remaining £2.1 million was a debt owed to a third party on behalf of the previous owners. £900,000 of this debt was against TV revenue, while £600,000 was an advance for the income of player Danny Graham, who was transferred to Swansea City. An additional £568,267 was advanced to the previous owners to renovate the Red Lion pub, which is opposite the stadium.

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Personnel Changes

Major personnel changes quickly followed the WFCL’s change in ownership. Manager Sean Dyche was sacked on July 6, although Gino praised him for his impeccable conduct in representing his football club. Dyche explained in an interview that he supported the decision because he wouldn’t have been effective in the new organizational structure, which was based on the European model of football club management. This model gives a high degree of authority to the owners and technical directors, both for the football and business sides.

Gianfranco Zola arrived the next day as the club’s new manager, largely based on the recommendation of the WFCL’s new technical director, Gianluca Nani. Zola and Nani already knew each other well from their days at West Ham. Nani felt that Zola, former forward at Chelsea and in Italy, would be a great fit for the new club. Gino also brought in 15 new players, including 12 from Granada and Udinese. The 2012-13 season ended with Watford’s defeat by Crystal Palace in the Championship play-off final. Watford wouldn’t be promoted to the Premier League until the 2014-15 season.

Current Status

Watford has enjoyed considerable success during the past decade under Gino’s ownership. The club has been promoted to the Premier League twice and has finished in the top division for six seasons. In one of those years, Watford made it to the final match of the FA Cup.

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Gino understands that success in football is a long-term project because a club’s outlook can change so much in only a couple of years. Owners must be able to change their vision quickly as the club develops, especially when it comes to winning a championship. Gino adds that he doesn’t want to jeopardize his club’s operations or financial status to accomplish this goal, as he wants to build an organization with consistent stability.

See more about Gino Pozzo here: https://theathletic.com/3357815/2022/06/29/watford-pozzos-takeover/

 

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