How and why football clubs like Watford FC are opting for fan-ownership

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The last few years have represented an exciting period of transformation and innovation for the UK football industry as fan-ownership of leading clubs has continued to increase in popularity. 

The concept of fan ownership is, of course, not a recent phenomenon with many British clubs either community created, supporter bought-out or minority supporter owned, particularly in the lower tiers. However, in recent years, it is an ownership structure that has gained significant momentum with more and more clubs thinking about effective ways to engage their fans, raise money and level up. It’s a debate that has taken place right across the football pyramid from international brands like Manchester United to less globally recognised community clubs like Wrexham AFC, now co-owned by Hollywood superstars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

As the world’s leading private investment platform, we see real value in bringing together a club’s community to help grow brand value, sporting success and commercial performance. From AFC Wimbledon to South Shields FC and Altrincham FC, we have worked with a number of UK clubs and, to date, have helped them to raise over £8.4m. 

We expect the number of clubs opting for this type of ownership to increase over the next few years and eventually for a form of fan-ownership to be featured on the cap table of the majority of British clubs. And this transition will only be sped up by recent UK Government legislation that has enshrined in law the need for fans to be central to how clubs operate.

With this trend in mind, we couldn’t be more excited about our latest investment opportunity of this nature – Watford Football Club (FC) – one of the UK’s finest footballing institutions. Based just outside of London, it has been a stalwart of English football since 1881 and has spent 6 of the last ten years competing in the Premier League. Under the direction of Owner Gino Pozzo and Chairman Scott Duxbury it has undergone a transformation in recent years and now boasts industry leading facilities, an internationally recognised player recruitment programme, and a series of strategic partnerships with major brands that have led to what is believed to be the largest scale of growth of any European club between 2018 and 2022, with commercial revenues rising by 239%. All of this ladders up to its next goal – permanent membership in the Premier League and long term sustained success in England’s top flight. 

Now, following this recent track record of development and innovation, Watford FC is providing its fans, other football lovers and savvy investors the opportunity to purchase a stake in the historic Club. Through this offering, investors will not only have the opportunity to own a share, but may also be provided tokens and other exclusive offers, at the discretion of Watford FC.

This is the largest club – at the highest level of football anywhere in the world – to offer such an inclusive investment opportunity, bringing fans on board in return for economic, commercial and sporting upside. 

For Watford F.C. the idea of fan ownership is certainly not a recent phenomenon. The Hornets were owned by superfan Sir Elton John from 1976 until 1990 and any new investors in this fundraise can rightly consider themselves part of the history of this great club alongside The Rocketman. And as it becomes one of the first clubs in history to offer ownership in this way, that history just got a bit more special.

– John Lake, Managing Director, Seedrs

Disclaimer: Approved by Prosper Capital LLP, FRN 453007 on 04/06/24 

No money or other consideration is being solicited and will not be accepted. No offer to buy the securities can be accepted until Offering Documents are filed with the SEC. Not investment advice. Disclaimer: Risks: Form CRS:

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