We take another in-depth look at the Pozzo’s, this time focussing on their Spanish interests
In the second instalment of our in-depth look at the Pozzo family`s impressive football portfolio, we turn our attentions to La Liga and Granada.
Once again we at VitalWatford picked the brains of someone much more informed on Spanish football matters in William Abbs (@FRfutbolWilliam on Twitter). William is a La Liga analyst for Football Radar.
To put you in the picture, the Pozzo`s own La Liga outfit Granada, who finished 17th last season extending their top-flight stay to a third season. Abbs explains the set-up in Andalusia: “The man overseeing the project in Granada as club president is Quique Pina, who recently announced that he would be remaining in his position following speculation he was set to quit. After a fairly low-level career as a player he moved into business and acted as an agent. Before being installed as Pozzo’s man in Andalusia he’d had an ill-fated spell as owner of Ciudad de Murcia, who ultimately relocated to Granada as a rival club (Granada 74) before folding in 2009.
“It was Pina’s friendship with Giampaolo’s son, Gino, a fellow agent, that resulted in the Udinese owner investing in the original Granada CF (who have been in existence since 1931) that same year.”
From what both William and Davidde have said about Granada and Udinese respectively, it`s clear that Pozzo Snr enjoys less day-to-day control over the clubs nowadays. It has of course been reported that it will be Pozzo Jnr who runs Watford on a day-to-day basis should the takeover be completed.
The Pozzo-Granada story has been one of success. Strolling along in Spain`s lower tiers, the Pozzo takeover not only saved the club but dragged it kicking and screaming back into the big-time. Abbs shares the story of Granada`s rise under Pina and the Pozzo`s: “Granada were drifting along in Segunda B (Spain’s regional third tier) and in financial difficulties before Pozzo came along. The books were balanced and then they gained promotion to Segunda A (the nationwide second division) immediately in 2010 as runners-up to Barcelona B.
“Another promotion followed the year after, this time via the play-offs, and so after a 35-year absence Granada were back in the top flight for 2011/12. Some of Granada’s football in the second division had been exhilarating – they were capable of breaking at phenomenal speed, scything through opponents at times – but after such a rapid rise there was, perhaps inevitably, a much more conservative air to them in the first half of last season.
“The defence remained relatively sound but the tactics of the then-coach, Fabri Gonzalez, became so negative that Granada were finding it alarmingly difficult to score goals. The board then acted decisively, sacking Fabri despite him being the man who’d taken the side up from Segunda B, and replacing him with former Atletico Madrid coach Abel Resino. Resino generally did a good job, reinvigorating some of the attacking players who’d been disenchanted during the first half of the season, but safety was only secured on the last day of the season and that was despite losing to fellow strugglers Rayo Vallecano. Resino and Granada have since parted company.”
So what of the negatives – have there been any drawbacks to the Pozzo`s regime? “”Ticket prices have been high this season, as they have been across Spain. Granada’s home stadium, Los Carmenes, still boasts one of the best atmospheres in the league despite holding a relatively modest 22,500, but with some tickets for the games against the bigger sides being hiked up to over ?100 it hasn’t been a cheap year for some supporters.”
Abbs also mentions the loanee situation. With the Pozzo`s having ‘over 100 players to choose from` as Bassini put it, a number migrate annually from Udine on a yearly basis to supplement Granada`s own talent: “Granada received a plethora of loan players from Udinese during their rise up the divisions. Some, like centre back Diego Mainz, who joined Granada in Segunda B and is still a regular in La Liga, were already based in Spain before being bought by Udinese and then immediately loaned to Granada. This is where Pina’s Spanish contacts come in handy for Udinese, who have an extensive global scouting network.
Whether the Italian club will buy promising English talent and then park the players at Watford remains to be seen, but it’s a sign that an influx of young Italian players to Hertfordshire won’t necessarily be the case. Due to Udinese’s worldwide contacts, loanees could come from any part of the world. Of course, there are many downsides to this reliance on players not permanently contracted to the club. The turnover in the squad is high and ultimately it’s Udinese’s decision what to do with the players on a season-by-season basis. Some English fans might have reservations about the identity of a team made up of players with only a transitory tie to the club.”
In spite of that, Granada do still benefit from the relationship even if a player doesn`t cut the mustard in Udine, says Abbs: ‘ One interesting case to mention, though, is that of Guilherme Siqueira, a Brazilian left back who signed permanently from Udinese last summer and – after another sparkling season in Spain – could raise a tidy sum for Granada as a possible replacement for Jordi Alba at Valencia, if and when Barcelona complete a deal for the Spanish international. Of all the Udinese players who remain on Granada’s books, or who have since moved on, he would undoubtedly be the biggest success story from a financial perspective if he is eventually sold this summer. Granada picked Siqueira up for nothing when his contract with Udinese expired, although the Italians could possibly benefit from a sell-on clause of up to 40%”
Finally, to clear up any confusion on the ownership of Spanish Segunda ‘B` side, Cadiz C.F, the Pozzo`s do not own El Submarino Amarillo (we`ll let you do the translation!), says Abbs: “Gino Pozzo recently denied he has any intention of investing. Pina’s father is the current chairman at Cadiz and they received several players on loan from Granada this campaign, most notably Ikechi Anya who was born in Glasgow and has previously played for Northampton Town (and Glenn Hoddle`s academy before joining Sevilla Atletico, the reserve side of Sevilla no less! – Ed).”
Exciting times most definitely ahead for the Goldenboys. Our thanks to both Davidde and William for their help in writing these pieces.