Connor Southwell: Being a selling club is a badge of honour for Canaries
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 October 2020
It’s a criticism that has long been levelled at Norwich City Football Club.
The notion of being a selling club is often one that the top brass will seek to avoid in order to retain their positive messaging and communicate their high ambition to supporters.
There has been a frustration consistently bubbling away amongst supporters since the dawn of time surrounding City’s best talent departing - whether that be Kevin Reeves, Robert Fleck, Chris Sutton, Craig Bellamy... the list goes on.
It certainly isn’t a problem unique to the Canaries either; just this summer we’ve seen other clubs let go of their talent for big fees, Brentford are probably the most comparable example at City’s level.
Emotionally, it’s a hard process for a supporter. When a player pulls on a yellow and green shirt there is already a connection, one that defies all science and logic.
Contracts are no longer signs of commitment, but drivers of value - amongst a certain vintage of football fan you will often hear a proclamation that there is no loyalty left in the game.
For a club like Norwich, there will always be greater steps for progression; those who perform the best will be cherry-picked. That is the nature of contemporary football.
Even at Premier League level, Wolverhampton Wanderers have seen Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota leave for new challenges with Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool respectively.
Ben Godfrey’s move to Everton is the latest crushing blow. The latest talent to exit stage left to perform in a wealthier, grander production.
Directed by Champions League-winning coach Carlo Ancelotti, they have a greater cast and threaten to get European recognition if their upward mobility can be sustained.
Whilst the fee City have commanded for Godfrey is widely seen as one that is palatable, they never excite or thrill supporters when they are quoted.
In a footballer, you get a hero. Someone to get behind, to bemoan and celebrate. Every goal is a moment, a memory that is remembered fondly.
Money isn’t something that supporters will reap the rewards from. Indirectly, the recruitment of new talent and new heroes will be formed, but they create their own unique bond rather than filling the void created by the outgoing star.
There is an understanding as to why these sales happen. City, despite their claims of financial security, run their model based on being self-sustainable; it is funded largely, but not solely, on player sales.
Within that is the swirling whirlpool of expectation constructed by the leeway supporters afforded the club for their perceived failures last season.
That means there is a competitive balance to strike - on the one hand is the financial necessity of shifting players, but on the other is the need to prove to supporters you’re genuine about mounting a promotion push.
Actions need to join up with words - selling all of those crown jewels wouldn’t match up with the messaging during pre-season.
Whether those expectations get revised upon the major sales will be an intriguing facet to review post-window.
Financially, coronavirus has posed a challenge City wouldn’t have faced. Jamal Lewis’ sale facilitates the recruitment we’ve seen throughout the summer and Godfrey’s sale helps fill the hole ripped open by Covid-19.
But the supporters won’t care about filling financial voids or long-term contingency - they care about the success of the side and progression on the pitch.
That selling club badge is one Farke has asked them to embrace as a sign of the positive processes put in place since he and Webber joined the club three years ago.
The reality is, without a shift in emphasis in terms of ownership, that will always be the case and even fresh investors wouldn’t shift that tag.
In a world where Lionel Messi’s future is up for debate, maybe being a selling club is a construct rather than a reality.
It’s just the circle of life in the footballing world.