BASSINI, Laurence (né BAZINI, Laurence, 1970, Stoke Newington https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl)
Between 1993 and 2004, Bassini was a director or secretary of at least 5 companies using his birthname Laurence Bazini, all subsequently dissolved.
Bassini was declared bankrupt in 2007 following the failure of his business The Fox at Ibstone near High Wycombe, which he blamed on his father. During this bankruptcy he changed his name to Bassini to have a “fresh start”.
In 2011 Bassini was introduced to buy Watford by Keith Harris, the investment banker bidding to buy Portsmouth, challenging the Pompey Supporters Trust, and took over Watford Football Club for £440,000 on 31 May 2011, when the club’s previous parent company Watford Leisure PLC was de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and became Watford Leisure Limited. He became director of Watford Association Football Club Ltd and of Watford Leisure Ltd.
Bassini’s time at Watford was marked by allegations of financial impropriety, culminating in the ‘Safegate’ scandal when just prior to the sale of the club in June 2012 Bassini called the police after an employee refused to hand him the keys to the club safe.
On 29 June 2012, Bassini sold Watford Football Club to Gino Pozzo, son of Giampaolo Pozzo and owner of Udinese and Granada, and in November 2012 it was announced the£1.5 million Bassini owed to Watford Football Club for ‘cash advances’ was unlikely to be repaid. In March 2013 an independent disciplinary commission found Bassini guilty of misconduct and dishonesty over financial dealings on behalf of Watford and banned him from being involved in a position of authority with any Football League club for three years. The commission found he had been “dishonest in his dealings with the league and with his fellow directors” and “practised secrecy and deception” when he told neither the league nor the other members of the Watford board about his secret forward financing arrangements.
In July 2013 Bassini had another business failure when the High Court ordered his company Watford Leisure Limited be placed in liquidation, and in March 2014 Bassini lost a High Court battle against the Russo brothers. The former Watford F.C. directors claimed that they were owed more than £3.5 million by Bassini. He was ordered to pay the sums of £3.5 million and £135,000 (plus an additional £568,000 in interest and £150k in costs); a total of £4,353,000. He was told that he could not appeal. During the trial, in which he was described as ‘evasive’ and a maker of ’empty threats’, the court heard Bassini had made numerous accusations of conspiracies against him without providing any evidence.
In June 2014 Bassini was made bankrupt for the second time. The bankruptcy order was made after Bassini failed to pay the sum of £37,500. During the hearing Bassini claimed not to own any property despite receiving over £1.5 million in cash advances from Watford FC during his tenure. There was a meeting of creditors in August 2014 , and the bankruptcy was still in effect in November 2016 when Trustees were appointed It appears the bankruptcy was finally discharged by August 2017 when Bassini was appointed as a director of three companies.
Bolton Wanderers FC and Charlton Athletic FC
On 17 April 2019 it was announced that Bassini had agreed to take over financially troubled EFL Championship club from Ken Anderson, to save the club from Administration , and this undated Sky Sport video interview appears to refer to this event. Only three weeks later it was reported Bassini’s takeover was on the “brink of collapse” after a repeated failure to provide proof of funds to the English Football League. On 8 August 2019 Bassini won a court order blocking the sale of Bolton Wanderers to Football Ventures. His efforts were eventually unsuccessful, with Football Ventures securing the completion of the sale on 28 August 2019.
On 19 April 2019 Matt Southall was photographed with Bassini in the directors’ box at Bolton during the Bolton Wanderers v Aston Villa match , and on 26 Aug 2019 Southall came to an agreement with Bassini concerning the purchase of CAFC. This came to light in the form of a letter dated 12 March 2020, the day after Matt Southall was evicted from the Valley boardroom, addressed to Matt Southall at Charlton Athletic Football Club, from lawyers acting for Bloom Properties Limited (BPL) a company of whom Laurence Bassini is the only director.BLP Letter 13 March 2020.pdf1.2M
Some key points from the letter are:
- In section 5 of the letter it states that Southall and Bassini have been associates for “many years” and were involved together in the purchase of Bolton Wanderers.
- In section 7 it states that Bassini introduced Southall to CAFC as Bassini had previously been in discussions to buy the club from Roland Duchatelet (RD)
- Bassini states that Southall agreed to pay a fee to Bassini if Southall bought Charlton Athletic
- Section 8 refers to an agreement dated August 2019 made between Southall (in a personal capacity) and BPL to pay £1.25m plus VAT to BPL should the purchase of CAFC be completed. Note the client is “Matt Southall (East Street Investments)”
- In section 10 there is a transcript of a Whatsapp message in which Southall messages Bassini “I need your help to close Charlton this week Laurence. Big dough in it for us”
- In sections 14 and 15 Bassini mentions the novation (shifting) of personal debt to Bassini from Southall to Charlton Athletic Football Club as Southall was not a “man of significant means”. Southall could not pay in one instalment and that the debt would instead be paid by CAFC
- In section 18 Bassini states that Southall offered Bassini a permanent role at CAFC as a means of paying the debt
- In Section 20 the lawyers seem to suggest the novation (shifting) of the debt “suits your (Southall’s) personal interests” and it may also in breach of Southalls duties to CAFC as a director. There is also a mention of recent media related to CAFC which might well be the boardroom eviction the night before.
- In sections 24, 26 and 28 LB states that the debt due at that time (13 March 2020) is £606,507.03 and that the interest on the debt is 8.25% of £113 per day.
In March 2020 Bassini was reported to be interested in buying EFL League Two club Oldham Athletic, but this was quickly labelled as “false” It is unknown whether this had anything to do with the very public falling out between Southall and CAFC’s other owner, Nimer, and the above letter, or is a pure coincidence of timing. However, in May 2020 it was revealed Bassini had a provisional agreement to buy Charlton Athletic for £1.2 million . This did not progress; he pulled out of the deal on May 27 due to problems stemming from Roland Duchatelet owning the freehold of The Valley and Charlton’s Training Ground. Instead Bassini decided to look into taking legal action against Bolton in an attempt to unravel their takeover and gain control of the club as it was revealed he had in fact officially owned Inner Circle Investments, the company that owned Bolton Wanderers at the time, after Ken Anderson had agreed to sell the club to him.
JUL 2022 UPDATE: After the covid-19 hiatus, Bassini reactivated his “novated” claim for supposed services assisting Southall to purchase Charlton Athletic, and threatened to wind up the club. This ”wind-up” is reviewed in the Latest News section of this website in the blog dated 16 Feb 2022 . A few days later, Farnell’s name was linked with Bassini’s in the media, as he too reactivated a claim for payment due to him from CAFC. Again, there is a Latest News blog , dated 16 Mar 2022. So, what had brought Bassini and Farnell together? The answer was delivered by Companies House. During 6 weeks in early 2022, Bassini registered 14 new companies , covering an improbably wide range of interests, 13 of which listed him as sole director. The remaining start-up, BASSINI BOARD LIMITED (13949658), has 13 directors including both Bassini and sports lawyer Farnell . But for what purpose?
In November 2021 there was a suggestion that Bassini was interested in buying Birmingham City FC for £27million , and Farnell’s presence suggests Bassini Board Ltd may be the intended take-over company. The media then went quiet until 10 May 2022 when The Mail announced Bassini had been in negotiations with Birmingham’s owners since the end of 2021, that David Sullivan was funding Laurence Bassini’s proposed £35million bid to buy Birmingham City, and that the West Ham owner could regain control at St Andrew’s if prospective buyer fails to repay £33million loan. Then on 13 Jun 2022 Bassini announced he has exchanged contracts on a deal to buy Birmingham City and is close to completing a £35million purchase that will see a staged takeover of the club. This is subject to EFL approval. Bassini says he will not be a director or chairman but as owner will instead appoint a board of ‘very experienced footballing people’.
However, following the news on 15 Jun 2022 that Bassini missed the deadline for a £5million deposit and proof of funds , he had yet another attempt to convince the world he was serious in a bizarre telephone call to TalkSPORT on 8 July 2022 . (this clip now seems to be unavailable, possibly on compassionate grounds). The following day, the BBC reported an EFL spokesperson saying: “Further to speculation in the media, the EFL wishes to clarify that it is not currently in receipt of documentation from any individual regarding acquisition of control at Birmingham City. All clubs are aware of the requirements under EFL regulations for prior approval.” Clearly, all was far from settled.
10 days later, a local businessman and former BCFC director, Paul Richardson, addressed the media to say his consortium had exchanged contracts to buy Birmingham City and that his “old friend” (and Charlton’s near nemesis) Matt Southall was lined up to be CEO. Poor Birmingham City fans! We at the Charlton Dossier offer the hand of friendship and sympathy to you, in the spirit of “Stronger Together”. or if you prefer, “Leave means Leave, Matt” Remember, the information made public on this website is only a sample of the contents of our full dossiers.