Cold financial chill fails to dampen Ed Balls' optimism for Norwich City's revival
Norwich City may not have the financial punch of Championship promotion rivals but something special is stirring insists chairman Ed Balls.
The Canaries return to league action at Swansea City this weekend top of the pile but set against a challenging financial backdrop underlined at the annual shareholders’ meeting.
City’s income for the 2018/19 period is forecast to drop by £34.8m to £28.9m, following the end of Premier League parachute payments, on the back of a predicted loss of £21.3m.
But Balls senses a mood of optimism the fightback is on track.
“We were giving a tough message in the accounts. In my three years we have gone from an income in excess of £70m down to a forecast £28m in the current financial year,” he said. “Yet we are top of the league.
“Not only top we are playing some really good football, scoring goals, and you can see the recruitment policy bearing fruit and the academy delivering young stars like Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell, Jamal Lewis.
“It is not only about money, it is about the type of club you are and planning for the long term. We are starting to see that but we are not naïve. It is only November and there are a lot of Championship clubs with more money than us.
“Let’s be cautious, the financial situation is very hard for this club but there is something special happening.”
Balls conducted a lively question and answer session after the formal business had concluded that raised a number of points, including the ethical aspect of a shirt sponsorship tie up with online betting company Leo Vegas.
“For me if someone had said could we retain Aviva on our shirt for a long time I would have replied, ‘absolutely’. A brilliant brand, focused around Norfolk and with a long association to the club,” said chief operating officer Ben Kensell.
“That wasn’t to be. Aviva decided to move in a different direction, albeit staying on board with the club. So we had to go out and look for the best option. There was always a decision to be made over value and brand.
“Sometimes the two don’t always marry. If you look at the majority of clubs in the top 30 they are sponsored by a betting or gambling brand. That is the stark reality. They are offering three, four and sometimes five times the value of a non betting brand.
“As a self-financed club we have to make a tough decision.
“Commercial is so important in football. We have one of the highest turnovers in the Championship in that regard but we can always do better.
“That means looking at all opportunities so we don’t have to sell players and give Daniel (Farke) and Stuart (Webber) the best opportunity to get a winning team on the pitch.”