Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watford Planning to Stay on the Up Even If They Go Down

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Watford Planning to Stay on the Up Even If They Go Down

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SMITH

Plymouth versus Watford

WATFORD manager Aidy Boothroyd may refuse to contemplate life back in the Championship next season, but chief executive Mark Ashton today revealed a plan is already in place to deal with relegation.

It is, of course, Boothroyd's job to maintain morale as his players languish 10 points from safety with just nine games to play and the challenge of Sunday's FA Cup quarterfinal at Plymouth Argyle.

But Ashton admitted: "I wouldn't be doing my job if I wasn't considering a future that could be in the Championship. Until it is mathematically impossible for us to maintain our Premiership status we will give our every breath to fight for it because we worked so damn hard to attain it.

"But my business plan has to be twotier. It's Championship and Premiership, so we know exactly where we are financially in either division."

It is Ashton's task not only to cushion the huge financial blow should Watford go down but also to lay a strong foundation to support Boothroyd's assertion, somewhat shaky given Watford's predicament, that the club will be established among the top 10 in the Premiership by 2010. "Is that attainable?

Yes," said Ashton.

"It will be difficult but the Premier League is the only place to ply your trade. It is the best football division on the planet. But it exposes every weakness you have, on and off the pitch."

Ashton, like Boothroyd, is in his midthirties and that makes this two-man management team the youngest, and most inexperienced, in the top flight.

"We've had one hell of a learning curve," said the former West Brom goalkeeper. "It has been hard and harsh at times this season and I know some people insist we achieved promotion too soon. I don't agree. You have to take every opportunity as it arrives."

That is typical of the positive attitude that pervades Watford, now all but debtfree thanks to significant investment from billionaire peer Lord Michael Ashcroft and the sale to Aston Villa of Ashley Young. However, Ashton concedes the club were not fully prepared for what followed on from their playoff triumph at Cardiff. …

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