Watford are under investigation from the English Football League (EFL) after The Daily Telegraph informed them about a forged bank letter used to prove Gino Pozzo had the funds to take full control of the club in 2014.
“We can confirm, following receipt of information from The Daily Telegraph, that we immediately commenced a disciplinary investigation into serious allegations made against Watford Football Club,” read a statement from the EFL.
“The club has been formally contacted by the EFL and is now required to provide a full and detailed response to the allegations. Once that response is received, it will be fully considered by the EFL and appropriate action will be taken under our rules and regulations.”
“No other individual at Watford FC was in any way involved in obtaining the letter. The letter was submitted to the EFL via Watford FC along with the other documents.”
The letter, fabricated to appear as though it was written by HSBC, was obtained by chairman Raffaele Riva and submitted to the EFL as part of a ratification process to prove Gino Pozzo was a financially credible owner and had the £7m to cover the running of the club for the season, after he went from a 25 per cent shareholder to 100 per cent shareholder (Giampaolo owned 75 per cent of the club when the family first purchased it in the summer of 2012).
Quite why the letter concerned proof of funds was forged, when the Pozzo family are estimated to be worth more than £400m, is unclear.
“In 2014, there was a restructuring of the shareholding of the ultimate parent company of Watford Football Club,” Riva told The Telegraph. “The full ownership of the club was transferred to Gino Pozzo and, to comply with EFL restrictions, it was necessary to provide certain documentation to ratify this change in the shareholding.
“I compiled some of the documents required by the EFL which related to Hornets Investment Limited, which is the holding company, including a letter of support from a bank as a proof of funds for the EFL. To facilitate this I asked a third party, X, to assist. I trusted X to do so because, at that time, we worked together on other projects. I have not worked with X since the end of 2015.
“No other individual at Watford FC was in any way involved in obtaining the letter. The letter was submitted to the EFL via Watford FC along with the other documents.
“For two years, I had no reason to believe the letter was anything but genuine. Indeed, since the letter was submitted to the EFL, Hornets Investment Limited have put into the club over three times the amount specified in the proof of funds letter. It has come as a huge shock to be notified there are doubts over the veracity of the letter.”
The Telegraph report Watford’s punishment could range from a warning to a possible points deduction.
Click HERE to read the full story from The Daily Telegraph.