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Watford FC, a traditional English football club currently in the second division, announced that it intends to sell 10% of its shares, in the digital version, to fans and other investors. The initiative is rare among major clubs in the United Kingdom, which generally do not make ownership available to their fans.

In order to facilitate the sale, Watford entered into a partnership with digital asset investment company Republic. New York-based Republic in 2022 acquired London-based crowdfunding platform Seedrs, which had previously raised funds for smaller teams such as AFC Wimbledon and Dorking Wanderers FC.

“Through this partnership with Republic, Watford FC aims to attract a wider range of investors than would be achieved through a traditional capital raise, specifically enabling fans to own a part of the club’s legacy and future,” the announcement stated. .

The big difference with this initiative is that investors will have the option to receive tokens to access exclusive offers in addition to their digital assets. Furthermore, the club informed that it will allow the trading of these tokens in the future.

English club sells digital shares to fans

Historically, sports clubs have asked fans for capital in the form of debt. This has been the case for Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers in recent years. However, allowing fans to acquire a direct shareholding in a club has become increasingly rare in the UK.

In the last financial year ending June 2023, Watford FC recorded revenue of £66.2 million (approximately US$84.6 million). Furthermore, it made a profit of £24 million, mainly due to player trading.

The club is being valued at £175m as part of the share offering. Despite the sale of shares, fans who acquire shares will not have the right to vote on the club’s decisions. Despite this, they will be able to receive dividends, something unusual in football.

Watford is majority-owned by the Pozzo family, who also own Italian club Udinese Calcio. The Pozzo family is known for its multi-club model, allowing the frequent exchange of players between its teams.

Scott Duxbury, chairman and CEO of Watford FC, expressed his enthusiasm for the new initiative:

“We are always looking for ways to help Watford FC grow and achieve our goals.”

Duxbury reaffirmed his commitment to taking the club back to the Premier League, where Watford have been present in six of the last ten seasons.

Andrew Durgee, president of Republic, highlighted that this will be the largest digital share offering of an English football club. Republic is backed by investors including Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, Broadhaven Ventures and Prosus NV. The company allows small investors to participate in investment opportunities, often in startups, with values ​​starting at US$10.

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