Watford shares rise 25% on AIM debut

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Shares in Watford Leisure, the holding company of Watford Football Club, finished up 25 per cent on their first day of trading on the Alternative Investment Market, valuing Sir Elton John's 8.4 per stake at about £2m.

The 1.25p closing share price yesterday increased the value of the company by some £5m, making it worth around £25m in total. It is the first English club to attempt a flotation since Leicester City in 1997.

More than 1,000 Watford season-ticket holders applied for shares in the offer and, along with other members of the public, subscribed for £953,750 worth of shares in the company.

Watford Leisure, whose club plays in the First Division of the Nationwide League, plans to spend some of the £4.7m cash it raised through its flotation on buying new players. It also plans to use the funds on securing the freehold of its stadium in Vicarage Road as well as for working capital.

The club, which was relegated from the Premiership last year, recently appointed the former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli to take charge as part of a drive to reverse its fortunes.