Stretched but no sign of breaking

PUBLISHED: 10:47 04 October 2007 | UPDATED: 10:36 14 September 2010

Norwich City's finances are stretched, but the club looks someway from going out of business - or even being in the intensive care category like rivals Ipswich Town.

Norwich City's finances are stretched, but the club looks someway from going out of business - or even being in the intensive care category like rivals Ipswich Town.

Fans have highlighted the end of parachute payments from the Premier League and the club's debt as two big reasons to be alarmed.

But Canaries chief executive Neil Doncaster says the debts are manageable and the loss of £7m isn't as bad as it might seem.

Turning to the debts first, Mr Doncaster explains the club's debts have been reduced from £19.2m to £17.7m over the past year.

The biggest chunk of the debt is the deal the club struck with insurance giant AXA to fund the Jarrold stand.

In essence the club borrowed £15m from AXA and is repaying this over the next 15 years.

It was called a securitisation deal because the debt is being repaid with club revenues such as season ticket sales, sponsorship and Football League income.

And a like a repayment mortgage the amount you owe reduces slowly in time with the £15m debt now down to £12.7m.

But the club has other debts, including a loan to build the Norwich Union Community Stand. Around £450,000 still needs to be repaid.

The club has also taken out loans to fund the development of offices in the Jarrold stand and to purchase more land for development along the river, land it has been given planning permission to redevelop.

Last year the club paid a total of £1.57m in interest payments on all of these different loans, a figure Mr Doncaster argues is affordable.

The other big issue is how to plug the £7m shortfall without the parachute payment.

The Canaries chief executive argues it won't lead to a £7m loss because things are different this year.

The £7m gap looks like being made up by the £800,000 solidarity payment from the Premier League and the £2m loan from Andrew and Sharon Turner, as well as the proceeds of the sale of players and the sale of more land owned by the club.

The accounts say £5.5m has been generated from the sale of Robert Earnshaw, Dickson Etuhu, Jurgen Colin, Youssef Safri and Andy Hughes.

In return the club's summer signings Darel Russell, Jamie Cureton, David Marshall, David Strihavka cost £2.2m - giving the club a windfall of more than £3m to help plug the gap this year, although Mr Doncaster in his column puts the figure at £2.6m.

The final measure is to sell land, with the club recently gaining planning permission for more riverside flats and commercial and residential units on land it owns along the river.

The moves will buy the club time - but are only a short term solution to coping with life outside the riches of the Premier League.

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