Fired up Canaries chief insists relegations and promotions can only happen if season is concluded
PUBLISHED: 15:34 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:34 13 May 2020
Sporting director Stuart Webber has made it clear that Norwich City could only accept relegation as fair if the suspended season is concluded, insisting that Leeds and West Brom must complete their Championship campaigns to be promoted as well.
Webber gave a lengthy interview to Sky Sports News this morning, breaking his silence on media accusations that the Premier League’s bottom six had been frustrating the restart process by protesting against neutral venues to try and avoid relegation.
City’s chief - who also went on to admit he grew up a Leeds fan - said that the “general consensus” among City players was that they wanted to return to playing as soon as possible but that more safety assurances were needed.
“In my opinion it needs to be settled on the pitch, not off the pitch, because a big question we have around restarting is it’s fine if we restart and three teams are relegated,” Webber said.
“I appreciate you’re saying we’re adrift but we look at it as we’re only six points off 16th, rather than being adrift, but if we do that’s fine because that’s where football should be played, on the pitch not in the boardroom.
“But the Championship has to restart and play all of its games also. What we could not accept is a situation where we play out all of our games, get relegated, but then the Championship can’t play – because we don’t even know if the government are going to let them play, they automatically promote some teams who haven’t finished the season.
“Because anyone that is promoted from the Championship, it is a 46 or 49 game slog. It’s a bit like saying the FA Cup finishes now, we can’t complete it, we’re in the quarter-finals and beaten a Championship top six team away, we’ve beaten two Premier League teams away – does that mean we win the FA Cup, qualify for Europe and we all get a medal.
“I know there are two FA Cup winners in the studio and I’m pretty sure you’ll think ‘hang on, that devalues how we won the FA Cup’.
“So I think that’s a really important sporting point, it needs to be settled on the pitch, both coming up or going down, and we accept that. We run our club as if we’re going to finish 20th in the league, that’s how we budget, because we have to, they are the rules we are playing with.
“So if we get relegated on the pitch it’s because – yeah we don’t like it, it’s not nice – but it’s also not the major surprise.”
Webber was talking to Sky Sports presenter Geoff Shreeves as well as top pundits Graeme Souness and Gary Neville, covering a range of issues about Project Restart.
Manchester United legend Neville jokingly replied: “I suggest you stay clear of Leeds in the next few months, Stuart, they’re a bit of a hostile bunch over there!”
That was referring to Leeds being top of the Championship and being seven points clear of third placed Fulham with nine game to play, putting them in prime place to replace the relegated Premier League trio and end 16 years outside of the top flight for the Yorkshire giants, with West Brom a point behind them.
However, City’s chief surprised the panel with the response: “To be honest with you Gary, not many people know this but I’m a Leeds fan, I had a season ticket for 10 years!
“But listen, Leeds should be getting promoted, we all want Leeds back in the Premier League one day - any true football fan believes they should be back in the Premier League - but they have to do it on the pitch.”
Webber’s interview follows on from head coach Daniel Farke speaking last week about his hope to complete the “little miracle” of securing survival when it is safe to do so, but not if it risks lives in any way.