Watford's players have been asked to take a 12 per cent pay cut or risk seeing the club fold. The Hornets director Tim Shaw announced yesterday that Watford could "cease to exist" unless they raise a total of £9.5m within days to avoid slipping into administration.
The First Division side's players have been asked to accept reduced salaries as part of a three-point plan to drag the club out of trouble. Shaw has announced a "Save our Club" campaign aimed at persuading supporters to donate money, and Watford also plan a share issue to raise capital. "This is a real crisis point in the club's history," Shaw said. "It's heartbreaking to think if we don't raise the money Watford would cease to exist but that's how it is. We simply have to reduce the wage bill as the major way to achieve this."
Watford's problems stem from an expensive season under Gianluca Vialli last year. The former Chelsea manager was appointed in an attempt to get the club back into the Premiership. But he was sacked one year into a three-year deal when Watford finished 14th, having taken on a host of big names on high wages.
Matters reached crisis point with the collapse of ITV Digital and the subsequent loss of television revenue. Shaw said: "The trickle-down effect of this has destroyed the transfer market and the confidence of any lending institutions in the game. There's also been the problems with the Football League internet deal and the significantly reduced match attendance this season." Watford were forced to cut the wage bill by releasing players and management staff, but this has also meant paying costly compensation packages. Vialli has yet to be paid off.
Dennis Wise, who had recently been training with Watford, began a new chapter of his career yesterday when he signed for Millwall. The former England midfielder insisted there were "no hard feelings" between him and Callum Davidson despite the incident which led to his dismissal by Leicester City. The 35-year-old was fired after an incident on their pre-season tour to Finland, which left Davidson nursing a fractured cheekbone. But Wise insisted that incident was behind him and he had already shaken hands with the Scotland international.
Wise said: "I regret things that have happened but it's time to move on. I shook hands with Callum the morning after the incident and I'm glad to see him back in the team. I'd like to wish him all the best. There's no hard feelings. In life you forgive and forget and get on with what you have to do. I was brought up to believe you shake hands and put it behind you."
Wise looks set make his Lions debut against Coventry at Highfield Road this Saturday.