‘He absolutely didn’t fit culturally with the owners or the fans’ - Ed Balls admits to mistakes during City tenure
PUBLISHED: 13:23 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:23 15 October 2019
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Former Norwich City chairman Ed Balls has admitted that the appointment of Jez Moxey “didn’t fit” the club’s cultural identity.
Moxey succeeded David McNally as chief executive in July, 2016 but left a little over six months later after a reported breakdown in relations with senior figures at the club.
Balls was chairman at the time, and in an interview in the second edition of the Along Come Norwich print fanzine, talks about Moxey's departure.
"In the later period of David, he pulled away a bit from some of that culture of openness... just because we were under pressure," he said. "That was how David and Alex were at the end of that period. I had great discussions that summer (of 2016) as to whether we should change the structure, but we carried on in the old mode, which is to have strong financial experience, recruitment experience, a chief executive.
"And when we went out with the headhunters, this guy (Moxey) was the most qualified. He persuaded the owners he wanted to do it, and they were persuaded he wanted to do it."
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The relationship didn't last long.
"I think you're right that over the next six months he didn't persuade the fans, the owners, that he really wanted to be here," added Balls. "It was a hard time for the club anyway, because we were losing. He bore the brunt of that, rather than the manager. But he absolutely didn't fit culturally with the owners or the fans. We tried hard to find somebody who would."
Balls also spoke about the ill-fated decision to buy Steven Naismith from Everton in January, 2016.
"David McNally says, 'you know, this is the one which is going to make a difference. He's going to get the goals and Alex Neil is absolutely determined'. And Delia (Smith) and Michael's (Wynn Jones) great strength is always wanting to back the manager. Before we made the decision you're sort of thinking, £8 million, £8.5m, whatever it was with add-ons, all these different financial complexities and bonuses. You're thinking, I know that, but if that makes the difference…
"It wasn't simply the fee, or simply the wage. It was the length of contract. He was great against Liverpool, then he didn't really deliver. From that summer, Steven Naismith was out of favour with Alex, quickly, and then with Daniel Farke. But in that moment, that phone call when I was in some pub in Leeds and spoke to Michael and Delia, in that moment you're making a decision which has a massive weekly consequence for years. In retrospect, it was the wrong decision, totally the wrong decision. But in that moment the chief executive, the manager and the owners all want to do it. I mean, there was no way anybody else is going to stop it. And actually, if it had worked, it would be the right decision."
Issue Two of Along Come Norwich is now available for pre-sale at alongcomenorwich.com/merch