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Watford receive record fine for forgery

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Watford have received a record fine of over £4m from the Football League for forgery.  The actual fine was £3.95m, but they also had to pay £350,000 in costs.   The fine would have been £5.75m if the club had not pleaded guilty and cooperated fully with the investigation.

The letter, purporting to be from HSBC, was provided by Hornest Investments Ltd as proof of £7m in funds it needed to show as part of the takeover process of the club, but the EFL said that it had been confirmed as a forgery.  

The letter was submitted to the EFL in Watford's promotion winning season from the Championship.  It was submitted when Gino Pozzo, an Italian businessman, took full control of the club from his father, Giampaolo, in 2014.

The EFL said that it was satisfied that Gino Pozzo, as Watford owner, and the present directors were not aware that the letter had been forged.  Raffaele Riva, who resigned as Watford chairman after the scandal was revealed last year, will face a separate disciplinary investigation.

The football authorities have dealt properly with this matter, but it does nothing to enhance the reputation of football, in particular in relation to takeovers.