Why City will not need a James Maddison style fire sale if they get relegated

James Maddison's club record sale was vital to plug the financial hole in Norwich City's finances Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

James Maddison's club record sale was vital to plug the financial hole in Norwich City's finances Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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In the second and final part of our exclusive chat with Norwich City’s sporting director Stuart Webber, Paddy Davitt discovered a direction of travel that will not be blown off course by the outcome of a Premier League survival scrap.

The Canaries' organic approach to bridging the gap may fall short this time around, with City seven points from safety ahead of Sunday's trip to Wolves, but the vital signs remain strong.

"Does that help ease the pain of possibly failing to stay in the Premier League? Absolutely not," said Webber. "You know, you lose sleep, you are miserable, you feel you let people down.

"There's nothing worse than being in our situation. Even when on the flip side you know that we're in a really healthy place.

"We have run it in a way that we avoid another catastrophic relegation, one where you have an older squad and the wages are too high.

"Or if we stayed up by the skin of our teeth and we need major investment to try and stay there and we haven't got that available, so we go down the following year. Our aim is to become established in the Premier League at some point and break that cycle.

"The only way in our model is to constantly develop younger players from within and having that culture.

"I think we have to stay on this path. That is my opinion. The people above me in the club might disagree and get rid of me at some point, but in terms of my belief we have to continue on this path, and we have to keep getting better at it because I think we've proven that it can work."

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber is keen to avoid the mistakes of the past should the Canaries' slip out of the Premier League 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City sporting director Stuart Webber is keen to avoid the mistakes of the past should the Canaries' slip out of the Premier League Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Webber insists there is no temptation to buy and potentially sell in big numbers this coming summer.

"When we sold James Maddison, we didn't see a penny of that, that went into that black hole," he said. "We sold him, Josh Murphy and Marley Watkins that summer for over £30m. And to be honest, we were able to buy a couple of players with that.

"This time, if we sold a player for £50m, we're not going to spend £50m on a new player because that doesn't really fit our model. Let's be honest, it would be like plopping a brand new Ferrari in a Vauxhall showroom.

"We try and make our own Ferraris, but what we would be able to do is develop the training ground even more, develop our young players and staff, have money in the bank for future transfer windows because as a self funded club, and that's what we are, we have to constantly think about how do we generate income for ourselves.

"In some cases it might be from selling players to generate income, but not to fill a black hole because we overspent two years ago or four years ago.

"It's like in your normal working life getting paid a bonus, and using it to pay a credit card balance or blow it on a holiday which was a waste of time. Now, if we get a bonus we can look to build an extension or get a new car.

"In my opinion that makes this model more sustainable."

Webber cites examples of other clubs who have rejected the boom and bust approach.

"Jurgen Klopp was talking about his job at Mainz before the Liverpool game. They were up and down before they stuck in the Bundesliga," said Webber. "Burnley do it in a completely different way to us.

"But it wasn't panic stations when they went down before bouncing back.

"We could have spent all the money for getting to the Premier League and still end up relegated. Take Aston Villa, what happens to them if they get relegated? We've given ourselves a chance of staying up.

"Yes, it's a small chance and it's going to be difficult. But at the same time if the worst happens it doesn't mean our club crumbles.

"And I think for this community under this model of ownership that's actually the most important thing. We have to protect that and not our own egos to make us feel better."

The City chief is widely credited with overseeing a remarkable transformation on and off the pitch since arriving at Carrow Road in 2017.

Before Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund came calling, Jurgen Klopp had to work in a challenging enviroment at Mainz 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdBefore Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund came calling, Jurgen Klopp had to work in a challenging enviroment at Mainz Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

"Look where we are now compared to three years ago," he said. "We've got a younger average age squad, we've got incredible asset value on the pitch, we have three regulars at England Under-21 level, that's not easy to achieve for any club, let alone Norwich City.

"Basically a new training ground, the stadium is looking great, fair play to Ben (Kensell) and the team up there.

"I look at where the fan engagement has gone in three years and the relationships we now have in general with supporters. I look at the productivity of the academy.

"We've produced more academy minutes in the last three years than we had in the previous 15. Our recruitment policy, we have proved we can pluck a player like Tim Krul for free and he might end up back in the Dutch national squad.

"Or Emi Buendia at £1.5m who has proven he can be a Premier League player. There's so many things going right."

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