The issue facing many soccer clubs in the 21st-century is how to change with the times of a modern industry worth billions of dollars globally. For Harvard Business School graduate Gino Pozzo, the ability to move with the times has always been something he has found easy in the soccer industry. Now the owner and Chair of Watford FC, Pozzo is shifting the focus of his entrepreneurial family towards soccer after spending the last quarter of a century building for the future.
The Pozzo family entered the soccer industry by accident in the late-1980s when Gianpaolo, Gino’s father stepped forward to take control of the Italian club, Udinese. The club is located close to the location where the Pozzo family had built their empire in the tool manufacturing industry. Gianpaolo was a fan of the club and answered the calls of his workers and their families to purchase the club and provide an injection of funding. Gino Pozzo arrived at Udinese in the mid-1990s when he was given some responsibilities at a club his father had failed to turnaround. In 2015, Watford joined the English Premier League just three seasons after being purchased by the Pozzo family as Udinese celebrated 20 consecutive seasons of Champion’s League soccer.
Watford has yet to hit the heights of Udinese in terms of making a mark on Europe, but Gino Pozzo is intent on taking a long-term approach to bring success to The Hornets. As the soccer industry has been building in value over the last 25 years, clubs like Watford are prized assets for investors with the days of local businesspeople purchasing a club seeming to be over. For Gino Pozzo, the decision to turn down an approach from a private equity firm to purchase a stake in Watford was an easy one to take as he pushes to keep the club in the Premier League for years to come.