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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Watford to float on stock exchange
Giancluca Vialli
Ex-Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli took charge earlier this month
First division Watford is set become the latest football club to fund its Premiership ambitions by floating on the stock exchange.

Watford has developed significantly in recent years as a commercial entity

Club statement
Watford Leisure, the holding company of Watford football club, has announced plans to obtain a listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), the junior stock market for small and growing companies.

It said it hopes to raise at least 5m to buy the freehold of its Vicarage Road ground and allow it to challenge for re-entry to the top flight.

The club recently appointed former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli as a replacement for ex-England manager Graham Taylor.

'Strong position'

In a statement, Watford said the float would "provide an opportunity for supporters to participate in the shaping of the club.

"Watford has developed significantly in recent years as a commercial entity and this growth has been funded to date from internal resources supported by shareholder funds and grants from the Football Trust as well as profits generated from a season in the FA Premier League," it said.

The club said it would be in a "strong position" to re-enter the Premiership in the coming season.

It was, therefore, "important to strengthen the financial resources of the company to enable it to take full advantage of football related and other commercial opportunities and to ensure that the club is able to compete at the highest level," the club said.

The club said it wants to secure the freehold of its ground and provide working capital.

It is expected to issue a prospectus in early July and list on the AIM in early August.

Property prices

Watford Chief executive Tim Shaw said the extra cash would enable the club to challenge for re-entry to the Premiership.

Last year the club ended years of speculation by confirming that it would be staying at Vicarage Road.

It said property prices in the Watford area were too high for it to contemplate a move.

Rock star Sir Elton John, who helped fund Watford's climb in to the top flight in the 1980s, remains its non-executive chairman.

See also:

08 Jun 01 | Watford
Chelsea betrayed me, says Vialli
21 Jun 01 | Watford
Vega signs for Watford
12 Sep 00 | Chelsea
Banishing the Blues
02 May 01 | Watford
Vialli named new Watford boss
06 May 01 | Eng Div 1
Hornets stung by Taylor blast
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