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Page last updated at 10:00 GMT, Saturday, 19 December 2009

Watford are saved from administration

Watford's Vicarage Road Stadium
Watford's financial difficulties had left it close to administration

Watford have avoided the threat of administration after majority shareholder Lord Ashcroft agreed to pay former chairman Jimmy Russo £4.88m.

Russo had threatened to put the Championship club into administration - triggering a 10-point penalty - after refusing to defer the loan's repayment.

But Russo accepted a deal on Friday which ensures the club's future.

"I'm relieved to have all this sorted out but it's disappointing it has taken so long," Russo told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It has rescued the club and it is good for the club and I'm delighted. I didn't want to put them into administration.

I think Graham should apologise for that comment. I think that was totally out of order, and I don't think I deserved that.

Jimmy Russo

"I wish the football club all the best and they have got a good future."

The club had been trying to persuade Russo to postpone his demands pending a rescue deal.

But Russo had rejected the proposal and said he wanted his money back immediately.

The club, who lie 10th in the Championship, would have been deducted 10 points if they went into administration.

Russo, his brother Vince and business associate Robin Williams resigned from the board at an AGM on Tuesday after their offer to buy the club stumbled.

The Russo brothers, owners of Valley Grown Salads, immediately demanded a £4.88m loan be repaid.

The Hornets have also confirmed the £7.5m rights issue is still going ahead, with Lord Ashcroft in effect taking over the debt from Russo.

The rescue package, which will be underwritten by Lord Ashcroft, means the club can be kept running at least until the end of the season.

"The feeling inside the club tonight is one of huge relief," said a Watford spokesman.

"The right decisions have been made by both parties for the future of the football club."

An earlier rejection of the proposal by the Russos led to an angry outburst by former Watford manager Graham Taylor, now acting chairman of the club.

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"I thought that was a disgraceful comment," said Russo, after Taylor called him a "bad man".

"He should have been more selective with his words.

"How can somebody who has rescued the club four times, have a contribution of £9m in the club, never been paid a penny ... become a bad man?

"I think Graham should apologise for that comment. I think that was totally out of order, and I don't think I deserved that.

"He should really look at that again and pick up the phone - if he's big enough."

As well as being deputy chairman of the Conservative party, Lord Ashcroft is one of the party's largest donors.

When he was made a Conservative peer in 2000, Lord Ashcroft gave an undertaking that he would pay taxes in the UK but has since refused to comment on his tax status, insisting it was a private matter.



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see also
Watford close to administration
16 Dec 09 |  Business
Watford board hit by resignations
15 Dec 09 |  Watford
Watford handed 1m survival loan
01 Dec 09 |  Watford


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