Watford are set to avoid administration after former chairman Jimmy Russo confirmed he would accept a fresh offer to pay off the debt owed to him by the club.

Press Association Sport understands majority shareholder Lord Michael Ashcroft is to pay the £4.88million debt directly to Russo, who yesterday rejected a plea from the Coca-Cola Championship side to defer repayment of his loan.

A Watford source said: "Lord Ashcroft has written to Jimmy Russo's lawyers to say he will pay him the money, and asking him to stop the administration process. Watford are now awaiting a formal response."

The Hornets had look set to be forced into administration after Russo and brother Vince, the club's former vice-chairman, rejected a £7.5million rights-issue rescue package from Lord Ashcroft on Wednesday evening.

Russo, who resigned his position on Tuesday, had demanded his money back by Thursday despite the ramifications for the club, who would be deducted 10 points and plunged towards the Championship relegation zone.

The improved offer from Lord Ashcroft appears set to bring an end to the matter, and when asked whether he would be accepting the deal, Russo told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Definitely, not a problem.

"The sad thing is this could have all be resolved without all the pain that's gone on over the last week or so.

"We've been asking him [Lord Ashcroft] to come to the table virtually every week. But now that he's prepared to pay my debt, that's great.

"It's good for the club. I'm absolutely delighted. But...why leave things to the last second?"

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