What Watford’s promotion means for Udinese and the Pozzo family
Until recently, Giampaolo Pozzo was far from a well-known name in England, despite the fact that he was already the owner of teams in Spain and Italy, nations home to two of the biggest leagues in football. That changed in June 2012 when he purchased Watford FC. During the first season under Pozzo’s ownership, Watford had a very successful run, and were a late penalty away from promotion to the premier league. The next season was not nearly as successful and the Hornets ended 2013-14 in 13th place. Fortunately for the Hertfordshire side, the 2014-15 season was a great success and they found themselves earning automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Watford’s promotion could mean a big decision for Pozzo. His Spanish side, Granada, finished in 17th place last season and narrowly avoided relegation. In fact, since the 2011-12 season, Granada has finished 17th, 15th, 15th, and 17th. Comparably, Pozzo’s Italian squad Udinese finished in 16th this past season. Udinese’s form over the last few seasons has been more promising than Granada’s, finishing an impressive 5th in 2012-13 before dropping to 13th during the next campaign.
Going simply off finishing positions, there is no clear choice for which team Pozzo should treat as his primary focus. It isn’t too hard to imagine Watford finishing around 16th or 17th this next season as is common for recently promoted teams (if they fortunately avoid the dreaded quick return to the championship). Since there is no clear frontrunner for which team will finish highest in their respective tables, there must be another factor that determines which team should get the most focus, time, and money from Pozzo.
In recent years, the amount of money Premier League teams have made from TV is unmatched anywhere in Europe, or, indeed, the world. It is almost absurd to compare the amount of money earned in England from TV to that of Spain and Italy. If Granada had finished in 3rd place in the 2013-14 season, and earned same amount that Valencia, who actually finished 3rd, gained from TV revenue, Pozzo would’ve earned 48 million euros instead of 18 million. In comparison, 3rd place in the Premier League (Chelsea) earned close to 113 million euros. In fact, Cardiff, the bottom side earned 74.5 million euros. Italy has similar financial conditions with only the top three teams (Juventus, Inter, and AC Milan) earning more than Cardiff earned in 2013-14. If Pozzo places his focus on Watford, and they close out the transfer window with a few big signings, it would be conceivable for Watford to finish 15th or higher (Leicester managed 14th). Using TV money figures from 2013-14, that would mean around 86 million euros for Watford, compared to 29.4 million if Udinese finished in the same place in Serie A, or 18 million if Granada finished 15th (or even last) in La Liga.
What can Watford do?
It’s clear that the most profitable thing for Pozzo to do is to make Watford’s success his primary concern. Each season they remain in the premiership means a significant amount of cash in his pocket. Watford has not been slacking so this window, permanently bringing in Matej Vydra who has had success at the club in the past (although he was not super effective in the Premier League for West Brom), as well as strengthening the squad with signings like Etienne Capoue from Tottenham and Valon Behrami from Hamburger SV. Surprisingly all of the Hornets’ moves so far have been permanent signings compared to the loans they have traditional relied on in the past few seasons. Troy Deeney has been a star for Watford in the championship and can hopefully carry his success into the Premier League. All in all, Watford has a relatively strong side forming as the start of the season approaches. However, it might be in Pozzo’s best interest to loan a few star players from Granada to Watford. Granada’s success would mean a lot less financially than Watford’s and that is a decision that needs to be discussed.
What about Udinese?
Granada have had little success under Pozzo’s ownership and even without any players moving away from the club, it’s likely they will be relegated in the next few seasons. On the other hand, Udinese have had success in Serie A in the last five years, despite a poor couple of finishes recently. Additionally, Pozzo has owned Granada since 2009 compared to Udinese, which he bought in 1986. On top of that, he was born in Udine, so it is unlikely that he would put the Italian side on the back-burner. Pozzo has a decision to make, will he opt for the English side that can bring him financial success and has potential to become a permanent fixture in the premiership for the foreseeable future, or will he stick with his hometown club through their recent underachievement? Only time will tell.
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