Elton John to lead Watford flotation

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The Independent Online

Sir Elton John is to become chairman of a publicly quoted company after Watford Football Club announced plans yesterday to seek a listing on the Alternative Investment Market.

Sir Elton, who already chairs the club, will be non-executive chairman of Watford Leisure, the holding company which will include the football club. He also plans to put more money into the club in order to increase his stake which currently stands at 6.3 per cent.

Asked whether the flamboyant star would chair City analyst meetings, a spokesman said: "Obviously he will sit in on board meetings but the City face of the company will be Tim Shaw, the chief executive."

Watford, which plays in the first division of the Nationwide League, is seeking to raise about £5m via the float. The proceeds will be used to buy the freehold of its Vicarage Road ground and help the club challenge for a place in the Premier League. The float is expected to value Watford at about £15m, excluding new money raised. A prospectus will be issued in July with the shares expected to start trading in early August.

The float will value Sir Elton's stake at almost £1m. He has been involved with the club since the 1980s when Graham Taylor took Watford from the old fourth division to the first.

The club was relegated from the Premiership last May. In 2000 it made a profit of £3.5m on turnover of £16.8m. In the nine months to March it made a loss of £3.5m on turnover of £7.9m. TV payments are expected to take full-year turnover to about £10m.

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