Analysis: How a closer look at Norwich City’s finances shows the importance of Premier League football
- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant
Norwich City has released its financial accounts for the period up to the end of the 2013/14 season. And while it may have been a terrible year on the field, culminating in relegation, off the field things are looking much rosier. Assistant editor and NCFC fan columnist David Powles takes a closer look.
Of course some Norwich City fans may argue they care not a bit about the club's financial situation, if the team continues to struggle on the pitch.
And that's possibly why the news that the Canaries continued to make a profit and has stayed out of debt, in the season it tasted relegation from the Premier League, has not caused mass celebration amongst supporters.
But there are few football clubs out there likely to taste only highs – and no lows – and clearly Norwich City stands a much better chance of returning to the promised land if it has the financial security to be able to take the odd risk here and there.
This is exactly what this latest financial statement will enable the board to do and already they have pledged funds for further strengthening in January, should it be needed.
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A glance at some of Norwich's Championship rivals proves this is a rare situation to be in. Take arch enemies Ipswich, a team brought together on a shoestring because years and years of second-tier football has led to much penny pinching. They may be able to strengthen in January as part of their own promotion push, but even that will be seen as a financial risk.
Norwich's positive financial situation is further highlighted by a national report out earlier this year, which found that during 2012/13 only four Championship clubs made a profit. Even in the Premier League city were one of only eight clubs to make a profit and three to have no external debt.
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Combined Championship debt came to £947m – an average of £39m per club – tell me that doesn't give Norwich an advantage when it comes to attempting to win the league.
All this is so different from just a few years ago. In 2011 Norwich's debt stood at £16m – and even that was a reduction from previous levels – and the club was once just a few hours from falling into administration until it convinced bankers there was a way of turning it around.
The likes of chief executive David McNally, joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones and chairman Alan Bowkett deserve much credit for what they have done to turn those figures around – and serving up three consecutive years of top flight football.
McNally has been handsomely rewarded for his efforts of course, receiving £1.6m from the club in wages and bonuses in the last financial year. But even he hasn't escaped the impact of relegation, having missed out on £500,000 in bonuses last season. The Canaries also saved £6m in bonus payouts to players because of relegation.
In theory Norwich do still hold some debts. Smith and Wynn-Jones and deputy chairman Michael Foulger have given the club around £2m and £1m in interest free loans in recent years. All three have at least been paid back some of that now, the overall figure owed dropping from £3m to £2m in the latest accounts.
Key now, of course, is promotion at the earliest attempt because the figures show that a sustained period away from the Premier League can lead to a staggering drop in income.
Revenue for last season stood at £95m compared to £78m the year before and £74m prior to that – all top flight seasons with coffers swelled by Premier League funding and TV money.
Norwich's previous season in the Championship, albeit a successful one, saw revenue levels at £23m, with the Championship handing out £5.5m in rewards for promotion, compared to the £48.5m given to the club for coming 12th the season after.
Football continues to be a game of haves and have nots.