Who is Laurence Bassini? the former Watford owner close to Birmingham City takeover

Bassini had a short and controversial spell in charge at Watford

British businessman Laurence Bassini is reportedly close to completing a takeover of Birmingham City.

Former Watford chairman Bassini was previously granted exclusivity over a purchase of the club and had been conducting due diligence over a deal to buy the West Midlands club.

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Bassini has reportedly now exchanged contracts on a takeover at the club, and is confident of completing a deal which will see him replace Birmingham Sports Holdings Ltd (BSHL) as owner.

According to The Telegraph, Bassini is hoping to complete the £35 million takeover of Blues later this week.

Once the deal is complete, Bassini is said to be keen on pushing through with urgent upgrades of the lower tiers the Kop and Tilton Road stands - which have been closed for more than a year.

But who exactly is the businessman?

Here’s what you need to know.

Business ventures and Watford

Laurence Bassini is a Stanmore-based businessman.

Bassini had been made bankrupt in 2007 following the failure of hotel business The Fox at Ibstone, close to High Wycombe.

Bassini said the business, which was found by his father, lost several million pounds.

He told the Watford Observer in 2011 that he changed his name after the bankruptcy, and that he was from a wealthy family.

The 52-year-old is best known for being the owner of Watford Football Club from 2011 to 2012.

He stated his business during that time was in property development.

According to The Guardian, Bassini borrowed millions from brothers Giacomo and Vincent Russo, to help him finance the Watford deal.

He took over Watford in a £440,000 takeover in May 2011 when the club’s previous parent company Watford Leisure PLC was de-listed from the London Stock Exchange.

Bassini’s 13 month reign in charge at Vicarage Road was one filled with controversy, with allegations of financial impropriety.

Laurence Bassini is reportedly taking over Birmingham City. Picture: Pippa Douglas

After just 13 months’ in charge, Bassini sold the club to Gino Pozzo.

In March 2013 an independent disciplinary commission found Bassini guilty of misconduct and dishonesty over financial dealings on behalf of the Hertfordshire club.

He was subsequently banned from being involved in the Football League for three years.

After Watford lost the Championship Play-Off final to Crystal Palace in 2013, Bassini even sent texts to the Watford Observer, reveling in his joy after the defeat.

Some of the messages, read: “How is the feeling in the town now? Ask Anthony (Matthews, the group sports editor) because for me the feeling is amazing.

“What goes around comes around. This is my happiest memory of Watford.”

Laurence Bassini is trying to buy Birmingham City. (Photo by Kate McShane/Getty Images)

Attempts to buy other clubs

In the past, Bassini has also been linked with attempts to buy Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic, Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth.

Bassini was close to completing a takeover of Bolton in 2019, and the club announced a deal was in place for Bassini to take control of the club.

Despite the deal seemingly being complete, Wanderers issued a statement saying the Bassini had not provided the short-term funding he had pledged on signing the Sale and Purchase Agreement, and the deal subsequently fell through.

Bassini did win a court order blocking the sale of Bolton Wanderers to Football Ventures, but Football Ventures did secure the completion of the sale in August 2019.

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