Canaries board face fans, full report

PUBLISHED: 08:05 06 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 10 September 2010

Norwich City Independent supporters association meeting with NCFC chairman Roger Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster.

Norwich City Independent supporters association meeting with NCFC chairman Roger Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster.

Rob Garratt

“We will stay in the Championship”

That was the pledge from Norwich City bosses at an emergency forum called by fans to address the clubs growing list of problems.

“We will stay in the Championship”

That was the pledge from Norwich City bosses at an emergency forum called by fans to address the clubs growing list of problems.

Supporters grilled chief executive Neil Doncaster and chairman Roger Munby on the club's financial instability and future fate at a forum called last night by the Norwich City Independent Supporters Association.

Manager Bryan Gunn made a surprise appearance at the forum and spoke to reassure fans about the club's plight after some fans questioned his experience and suitability for the job.

Top of fan's list of woes was the club's status nestled in the relegation zone with just 10 games left to play, but both Mr Doncaster and Mr Munby refused to accept the Canaries are in danger of going down.

Mr Doncaster said: “As soon as you start talking about something you are starting to accept it. And no one at Carrow Road is accepting relegation. What I don't want to be doing is talking about what, ifs and what buts - we must stay positive.”

Mr Munby added: “As a business, everything that is being said about the club is on the retention of our status in the championship.

“I believe, we will stay up. And I won't allow any one in the club to talk about going down.”

The board itself came in for heavy criticism, with fans calling for fresh faces and money to be brought in to turn around the decline of recent seasons, and a third of fans present voting in favour of appointing new board members if the club is relegated.

Responding to criticism of the two managerial appointments before Mr Gunn and his own 13 years tenure as chairman of the club, Mr Munby said: “What mistakes have we made? I can tell you a couple. One's called Peter Grant and the other's called Glenn Roeder.

“Are we a woeful board? I can think of worse in other clubs. What you've got here is a bunch of people who use their limited resources to the best ability they can. Have we done damage? Damage limitation is what we're about. Irreversible damage? No.

“This club belongs to its fans and it always will.”

Mr Doncaster added: “We've made decisions on football managers and they haven't always worked out how you would like. Peter Grant was appointed through a thorough process and Glenn Roeder kept us up in impossible circumstances.”

They also quashed claims the board had turned down investments from millionaire Peter Cullum and other sources.

Mr Doncaster said: “There's a common perception that there are people who want to put money into this club, which is a perception against all reality. We've never turned down any money that would be in the club's best interests to take. There are no investors who want to come into Carrow Road at the moment - we remain seeking investors but the credit crunch has hurt a lot of very wealthy people.”

Supporters were disappointed to find the club unable to reduce its reliance on loan players.

Mr Doncaster said: “I am the first to admit we've got more loan players than are ideal - there's an element of short term need to that but they remain a legitimate way forward. Other clubs use them - not as much as us perhaps - and we will continue to keep using them.”

Mr Munby added: “Going in the dressing room after we've lost the players are very upset, some of them are in tears, and most of the loan players are as upset as the one's on full contracts.”

Some fans criticised the appointment of Bryan Gunn, who had no previous managerial experience, but Mr Doncaster defended the decision.

He said: “You become painfully aware of the shortcomings of a previous manager when that manager moves on. Bryan puts smiles on people's faces and inspires the players we have. While Bryan may not have the most experience, his most important characteristic is making the players want to play for him.”

In a surprise turnaround, Mr Gunn appeared at the forum to silence supporters after listening in on the meeting unnoticed from the corner of the room.

He told the crowd: “We're in the relegation zone. When I took over this job I knew it wasn't going to be easy but I still have the feeling I can get us out of this situation. We've got to believe that. Everyone in the room needs to believe that.

“We saw that on Tuesday evening - it's the worse we played but we got the result through determination, support and commitment.

“There's no great plan. Just go out there and try and win games of football. It's going to be hard work but I'm a great believer in the commitment of players and I think we will be in the championship next year.”

The Evening News has been urging fans to rally behind the club and players as part of its Get Behind The Canaries campaign.

Why should Norwich City stay in the championship? Email your views to rob.garratt@archant.co.uk

Canaries set to fly

Norwich City's first-teamers have paid out of their own money to fly to their clash with Blackpool tomorrow, it was revealed at the meeting.

The manager revealed that financial cuts meant the team is now bussing to games - but in a bid to prepare properly and skip a six-hour bus trip players elected to buy their own plane tickets.

The team will fly into Manchester Airport, said Gunn, and meet the rest of the coaching team to complete their journey to Blackpool.

Mr Gunn said: “Due to the financial situation some of the flights for long distance games have been cancelled but the players asked to buy their own tickets to Blackpool - that shows the commitment of the players. I took that as a positive sign that the players are looking at the situation and trying to the right thing to get the right result.”

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