Norwich City chairman answers your questions
PUBLISHED: 11:50 27 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:40 10 September 2010
Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett stepped into the firing line with a live web chat, covering finances, manager Paul Lambert, his transfer budget – and someone's barking dogs in Suffolk.
Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett stepped into the firing line with a live web chat, covering finances, manager Paul Lambert, his transfer budget - and someone's barking dogs in Suffolk…
t Brian Burrell:
Mr Bowkett, as part owners of the hotel how much income do the club get from the hotel? As income I mean from people using the hotel and nothing else like being tax deductible etc.
Afternoon Mr Burrell - we own 30% of the hotel business and we have sub contracted part of the business to a third party. I think in the current environment the hotel is doing quite well and any income stream the hotel receives we will benefit from. We also have a good trading relationship with the hotel which means that when we have conferences we sell hotel beds and equally the hotel can sell our conference facilities as well.
t Mello Yello:
Are you personally going to contribute any finance/investment to NCFC?
I am sorry Mello that I am not going to be anyone's fairy godmother but if there is one out there I am certainly going to find him or her. In the meantime, we are going to manage this business professionally, which has meant that we have had to take some very difficult decisions and I am sure over the coming years we will have to take a few more.
What is your vision for NCFC over the next 5-10 years. And what benchmarks have you established to measure progress? Good short term progress so far. Well done, Chairman.
We have immediate goals and then a medium-term plan which is in the embryonic stage at present. Our immediate goals are to gain promotion and remain solvent with a view of achieving promotion this year. David McNally has put forward a business model that means that we can be self-funding in the Championship and in League One in the short term. However, and I make these comments very markedly, we should not underestimate the financial position the Club is in and the Board is working extremely hard to ensure that all available monies are targeted towards football and not other commercial interests around the Club. Once we are in the Championship we are confident that we can consolidate our position both financially and in football performance within our own means. However, if we are to make a sustained bid for a position in the Premiership we clearly will need an injection of new funds. This may mean new ownership - something I know the current owners are fully aligned to. However, this is in the medium term and I must emphasise our key objective at the moment is to return to the Championship.
With the encouraging start to Paul Lambert's reign as our boss, what are the board doing to back him fully with the finance required to convert his good start into a concerted attempt for automatic promotion? Will any future transfer budget depend on current players being sold in January, or will he be backed now to bring in the players he wants from Swindon and Exeter?
Let's hope as a club we all now want the same.
I agree Paul Lambert has had an encouraging start to the current season and as I said in a previous response all our efforts are committed to providing funds for Paul to ensure we achieve promotion this year. We have no plans to sell any players in January. However, if Paul and his staff do decide to move any players on, any funds generated will be reinvested in the Club. I do need to make the point that Paul, David and I will only make sensible bids for players and we will not be carried away by "deal fever". I feel too often in the past that prospective vendors have seen Norwich knocking on the door and have inflated prices accordingly. We will pay a fair price and nothing more. Moreover, one of the attractions of asking Paul to join our Club was his experience in achieving value for money in acquiring players.
In light of your reply to BlyBlyBabes, is administration on the horizon?
In reply to GMF - Clearly, apart from 4 or 5 clubs in the whole Football League, finance remains the critical challenge. Fortunately, we have the support of our long-term lenders and we are working with them to ensure administration is as far away from Norwich as we can possibly make it. We have meritorious business plans that are self-funding and can take this Club forward. Naturally, as I have said before, in the medium-term we need to look at all aspects of funding which could include new equity injection, change of ownership and a public offering of new shares or bonds. None of these can be ruled out.
Alan, you mentioned that you'll be searching high and low for investment as and when it is appropriate for the football club - do you believe NCFC has burnt its bridges with Peter Cullum as a potential investor/new owner?
In answer to Tim's question - I am willing to take phone calls from any bona-fide new investor or potential new owner, including Peter, and, apart from excluding the innumerable lap-dancing club owners that would like to own a bauble of a football club this week, I am willing to arrange meetings as well.
t Don Coop:
I think all will agree its great to see so many NCFC young prospects playing in the first team. Are we, giving our financial situation, going to have to rely on them more from now on in, and do you think this is a good thing or not?
Afternoon Don - We are all delighted to see the success of so many Academy graduates and long may it continue. However, I know Paul is concerned because of a very long season and we are making substantial physical demands on young men. We have to balance their development, our needs and the availability of new external talent coming into the Club. Fortunately, in Paul and his team, we have the people who can do this but I would like to go on record and say how delighted I am with the performance of our graduates. As for relying on them I support Paul's motto - “If you are good enough, you're old enough" and our Academy graduates are in the team because of their ability, nothing else.
Much was made about the amount of compensation due to Colchester when Paul Lambert and his management team arrived. At what stage of negotiations are the two clubs at? And will it be likely to go to be sorted out soon?
In reply to B-ru - We are still in negotiations with Colchester as regards compensation and in fact I had a meeting with the Chairman of Colchester last week. Sadly, we are still substantially apart but I am hopeful an amicable resolution will be made eventually.
t Richard: What difference do you think you can make to our club?
In reply to Richard - My personal skills set is transforming difficult companies and these are the talents I am attempting to bring to NCFC. In Paul and David we have outstanding leaders in their field and my task is to bring the best out of them and ensure that we have the financial resources to support them. I feel in the past that we may not have been as focussed on football as we should have been and, moreover, I think we may have been viewed as a soft touch by other clubs and agents. While remaining fair and balanced we will be quite ruthless in our pursuit for success for Norwich. We have made and will continue to make the tough decisions that need to be made in the best interests of the football club. I am confident now that we have a Board that can do that.
t Can u sit down please:
You publically challenged how Smith & Jones were running the club back in May. Apart from their obvious love of the club, what have you seen to change your opinion?
Can u sit down please - I must correct you, I publicly challenged how Neil Doncaster was running the Club. As for Delia and the two Michaels, I think their outstanding contribution has been the appointment of David McNally as Chief Executive - a consummate businessman who has a decade of football experience at the highest level. Paul, David and I are now running the Football Club with the complete support of the substantial shareholders. When we have had to take very difficult decisions, all our substantial shareholders have been demanding in their questioning of our proposals, as I would wish any non-executive director to be and then they have been some of the most supportive non-executive directors I have ever worked with and I can assure you I have worked with a lot. Let's not forget, I did not seek this job and it was Delia and Michael that realised some fundamental changes had to occur and they spent considerable time persuading me to undertake the task.
Good afternoon, Alan. You've now been in the job few months, is it what you expected it would be? Have there been any surprises?
Afternoon Paul - I think the main surprise is that I am not enjoying my football as I used to. Previously I used to be able to sit in the stands with my son, have a good moan and groan, a drink afterwards and the go home and forget about it all. Now, if things don't go as we planned, I feel it is my fault and I pester my dogs until I can work out what we need to do next. Fortunately, as I live on a farm, I can walk forever with our three dogs and not have the neighbours complain about them barking as I hear may be the situation in Suffolk.
Is Keith Harris still employed by the club? If so, any news? Did his work ever yield any interested parties?
Afternoon Lewis - Keith is still giving advice to the Club and in fact I met him 3 or 4 weeks ago. He has a remit to find new investment and/or possible new owners but to date I am sad to report this has been fruitless. All the key financial advisors in the City of London who have football experience, and that includes Rothschilds and Deloittes, as well as Seymour Pearce, are aware that we are seeking to restructure the balance sheet.
t Darrell Allen:
What are your thoughts on the prospect of our FA Cup first round tie away to Paulton Rovers next weekend?
Hello Darrell - I am delighted to announce that our game against Paulton Rovers in the FA Cup first round will be held at Paulton's home ground, Winterfield Road, Paulton near Bristol at 12.45 pm on Saturday, 7 November. This will be a live game on ITV which clearly will be a huge financial bonus for both clubs. Over and above all that, as a great believer in the FA Cup, I think this represents what cup ties are all about. I know Paul and his team will take this game very seriously, as they do every game. I wish Paulton Rovers the best of luck, but not on 7 November!
t Don from Hethersett:
Hi Alan - If you were granted 3 wishes what would they be - 2 wishes for NCFC and 1 for yourself?
Hello Don - Petr Cech, Fernando Torres and for myself, automatic promotion this year!
Assuming Paul Lambert does well, how does the chairman envisage the club keeping him here if other clubs are interested in him?
Paul Lambert will do well and I am convinced he will be a manager in the Premiership. It is my job to ensure that it is with Norwich City. We must ensure that we do no lose a second Martin O'Neill. I know Paul is delighted with the reception he has received in Norfolk, but above all the support from the fans, both home and away. Long may that continue.
In closing, thank you everyone for all your questions. I am sorry that I have not been able to answer them all but I have tried to pick them out according to theme. We can arrange another session later in the season. In addition, myself and other directors will be taking part in webchats on the club's official website as part of our new policy of consulting with our supporters. I am looking forward to Saturday's game. Thank you for all your support and let's remember, despite all our different views, the one thing that is universal to us all is that we love Norwich City.