For the fans it’s FA Cup glory, for Watford, it’s all about money

  • Other Sport
  • Friday, 07 Mar 2003

LONDON: For Watford fans, Sunday's quarter-final against Burnley is all about FA Cup glory. 

But for manager Ray Lewington and those watching nervously from the directors' seats, it is mostly about cash in the bank. 

“Unfortunately, sometimes you have to push away the glory. What it really means to Watford is that we are earning some money,” Lewington said recently. 

“Money is as important to us as anything. The team, in team meetings, have talked about the club's predicament financially and we know what a quarter-final could mean.” 

Last September, the first division club was forced to impose wage cuts as directors struggled desperately to fill a £9.5 mil financial hole. 

“We didn't actually go into administration, but we were close,” Lewington said.  

“If the players and everyone around the club hadn't taken 12% pay cuts then we would have. All the staff, not just the players, took the pay cut.” 

Thanks to their defeat of Premier League Sunderland in the last round of the Cup, the players received their full wages for February – the first time this has happened in six months. 

Watford are far from alone in battling for financial survival in England's 92-club league.  

When broadcaster ITV Digital collapsed in April last year, so did a three-year, £315 million television rights deal – provoking a financial crisis that has pushed a slew of league teams into administration. 

But at Vicarage Road they kept their heads above water and victory over First Division Burnley – who they beat 2-1 in the league last November – would mean an even more lucrative FA Cup semi-final. 

Watford, however, face a team with a Cup tradition of their own – the “Clarets” were champions in 1914, beating Liverpool 1-0. – Reuters  

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