Watford’s executive chairman Raffaele Riva has announced he will step down from his post, while the Premier League club have proclaimed their innocence in the light of recent allegations.
Both the English Football League and the club themselves launched investigations last month following allegations, reported in The Daily Telegraph, surrounding Gino Pozzo’s sole takeover in 2014, and the alleged use of a forged banking letter.
The Hornets claim to have now concluded their own findings, which they will send to the EFL, and they stated the club “is not guilty of any wrongdoing”, while the outgoing Riva said he “fully refutes, and will protect vigorously my integrity against, any recent speculation”.
Riva will now be replaced by chief executive Scott Duxbury as executive chairman.
“I have decided to step down as chairman of Watford FC in order to focus on my other business interests,” Riva said in a statement on the club’s official website.
“For the past four years I have acted with honesty and in good faith in all my dealings on behalf of the club, and the club has developed and grown a great deal in this period.
“I fully refute, and will protect vigorously my integrity against, any recent speculation.”
The EFL started a probe into the allegations, which concerns a proof-of-funds document provided to them in order to ratify a change in shareholder, because Watford were a Championship club at the time.
Since then they have earned promotion to the top flight and finished 13th in the Premier League last term while also reaching an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The club’s fans displayed their support for their hierarchy prior to last weekend’s clash against Hull with banners of Gino Pozzo and the words “So here’s to you Pozzo family, Watford loves you more than you would know”.
Gino Pozzo also released a joint statement on Wednesday evening with Duxbury addressed to supporters which stated they are confident there will be no sanctions brought against them.
“We share your pride at the progress the club has made over the past four years and we will not allow its name to be tarnished by the incident brought to light last week,” they said.
“Today the preliminary investigation from a firm of solicitors into that matter was completed and the findings will be sent to the EFL. We can assure every supporter the club acted with honesty, integrity and in good faith at every step and is not guilty of any wrongdoing and we are sure this will ultimately be recognised.
“The three key pillars of stability, sustainability and growth are just as important today as they were when we first met and spoke with Watford fans back in 2012. Since that time, with the backing of the supporters, we have built both a Premier League side and a stadium of which we can all be proud.”