Watford FC to Sell 10% Stake to Fans and Investors

Watford FC, an English football team in the second tier, plans to sell 10% of the club to fans and investors. This move is a rare instance of a UK club offering equity to supporters.

The club has partnered with digital-asset investment firm Republic to manage the sale. Republic, based in New York, acquired London-based crowdfunding platform Seedrs in 2022, which has raised funds for teams like AFC Wimbledon and Dorking Wanderers FC.

Historically, sports teams have occasionally turned to fans for capital, usually through debt. Clubs such as Bolton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers have borrowed from fans recently. However, allowing fans to own equity in a team has become increasingly uncommon in the UK.

Former Premier League team Watford FC reported revenue of £66.2 million ($84.6 million) for the year ending June 2023 and is valued at £175 million in this equity offering. The club made a £24 million profit, considering player trading.

Although fans will not have voting rights with their investment, the digital shares will pay out any dividends, which is unusual for football clubs. Watford is almost entirely owned by the Pozzo family, who also own Italian team Udinese Calcio and advocate for the multi-club model.

“We are always looking at ways we can help grow Watford FC to deliver on our plans,” said Watford FC chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury, who aims to return the club to the Premier League, where it spent six of the past ten seasons.

Andrew Durgee, President of Republic, stated that the sale would be the largest digital equity offering of shares in an English football club. Republic is supported by investors including Michael Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, Broadhaven Ventures, and Prosus NV. The firm allows retail investors to invest in companies with as little as $10.