It's as you were after AGM

PUBLISHED: 10:06 19 October 2007 | UPDATED: 10:38 14 September 2010

STEVE DOWNES

Supporters' dreams of a multi-million pound investment in Norwich City were all but dashed last night at a tetchy annual meeting. Joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones were unanimously re-elected to the board, and signalled their intention to stay for the foreseeable future.

Supporters' dreams of a multi-million pound investment in Norwich City were all but dashed last night at a tetchy annual meeting.

Joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones were unanimously re-elected to the board, and signalled their intention to stay for the foreseeable future.

And Andrew and Sharon Turner, whose mortgage business is worth £275m, refused to commit themselves to adding to the £2m interest free loan they made to the club earlier this year.

The couple, who were confirmed as board members at the meeting in the Barclay Stand's Norfolk Lounge, also categorically denied that they had held talks with Delia and Michael about taking over their shareholding.

And they pledged to “step down” from the board if they failed to get City back to the Premiership in a “reasonable timeframe”.

Meanwhile, Delia revealed that she and her husband had had “absolutely no interest” from anybody looking to take over their shareholding.

And she added: “Anyone who can find idiots like us and the Turners to put money in and get nothing back can have this football club tomorrow.”

Despite the club's perilous position in the Championship's relegation zone, and its lack of a manager since Peter Grant's departure last week, the annual meeting stopped short of being the stormy affair people were predicting.

Caretaker manager Jim Duffy admitted the current squad was short of players with a “strong mentality” - a characteristic that he said was “particularly strong” when the club made it to the Premiership in 2003-04.

He also said current captain Jason Shackell was “a couple years short” of being experienced enough to be an effective skipper.

But he was quick to deny claims by shareholder Bob O'Neill that star winger Darren Huckerby had “thrown his toys out” on two occasions - first in refusing to give his all for Nigel Worthington at the tail end of his tenure, then in doing the same during the last knocking's of Grant's reign.

Duffy said: “That's not true at all. He's the consummate professional. He gets frustrated because he knows the standards he can get to. He is a player with fantastic ability and those sorts of players can be a little bit moody at times.”

At the start of the meeting, club chairman Roger Munby revealed that there had been “more than 50” applications for the vacant managerial role, including “former international players, current international managers, Premiership managers, experienced Championship managers and up-and-coming managers cutting a dash in the early stages of their careers”.

He said: “This says very positive things about national perceptions of NCFC and the efforts of your board, in building on previous high points, to preserve and enhance our national reputation over the past 11 years.”

He added: “We are not, and will not be, a small provincial football club. And, just for the record, no-one on the board thinks that the current league position is anything other than totally unacceptable. We are passionate fans like you and our current difficulties on the pitch hurt like hell.”

Turner also made a speech at the beginning of the meeting, in which he said that he and his wife believed chief executive Neil Doncaster was the “right man” at the helm.

But he said: “Don't think that means we will give him an easy time. Quite the opposite. As independent directors we will be constantly assessing his performance and holding him to account.

“And we are very happy to be held to account. We have set ourselves out own objectives of what we want the club to achieve. Obviously foremost amongst those is promotion to the Premier League.

“If we don't achieve that in a reasonable timeframe we will unquestionably step down and let someone else try to.”

Turner ended with a plea to supporters to “stand in line behind Jim Duffy and the players” and give their “maximum support” against Bristol City at Carrow Road on Saturday.

The board members had to field some difficult questions and comments from frustrated shareholders throughout the evening.

Ian McRae said: “My fear this year is relegation. We desperately need investment in the midfield, otherwise we are on a slippery slope.”

Beverley Johnson asked how any manager was going to be able to get the players to perform with “pride, commitment and passion”.

David Mutch agreed, saying there was “definitely something lacking” in the squad. He said: “Maybe it's this disease that's called money. These players shouldn't need motivating. They should be sweating their guts out for the club. I don't think this board realises how poor this squad is.”

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