Vote of no confidence in City board

PUBLISHED: 08:43 15 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 10 September 2010

Sam Williams

An influential group of Norwich City fans have issued an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the club's board following relegation and the appointment of Bryan Gunn as permanent manager.

An influential group of Norwich City fans have issued an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the club's board following relegation and the appointment of Bryan Gunn as permanent manager.

About 500 supporters packed into St Andrew's Hall last night at an emergency meeting organised by the Norwich City Independent Supporters Association (NCISA) and backed the motion of no confidence in a near unanimous vote, with none opposing and just five abstaining.

Fans expressed their anger in what many described as a string of mistakes by majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones and other board members over a number of seasons, with many calling for other investors to come and take their places.

Supporters also overwhelmingly opposed the appointment of Bryan Gunn as permanent manager, with just seven of the hundreds of fans present supporting the move.

Fans raised concerns about the board's refusal to listen to supporters' views, bad choices of managers and a failure to invest in quality players, and said a series of errors over several years had led to the disastrous last season.

John Tilson, chairman of NCISA, said: “There has been a catalogue of mistakes over the past decade and we have had a succession of bad managerial appointments, and the latest could be the worst of the lot.

“There has been a total inability to get money into the football club from sources other than Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones.

“I was anxious that this meeting was not going to be a “bash the board” night. That was not the intention, the intention was to get a representative view of the fan base as to how they felt.

“We were all taken aback by the scale of the vote in the majority shareholders and that only seven people supported the appointment of Bryan Gunn.”

While fans said they were disappointed at the appointment of Bryan Gunn, saying his lack of experience meant he was not the man to get the team out of League One, many said they would support the Canaries legend in the post, saving their anger for the board, which also include Michael Foulger.

The two other board members, chief executive Neil Doncaster and chairman Roger Munby quit their posts this week.

Season ticketholder Chris Finch said: “Delia Smith has got to listen to us. We are the best supporters in the land and we are too loyal. Bryan Gunn is not the right man for the job. We need someone with experience, but we will support him.

“But if we don't get promotion next year we should not renew our season tickets in big numbers.”

Supporter Mark Smith added: “I don't think appointing Bryan Gunn was the wrong decision and I don't think it was the right decision. I don't see how the current setup of the board could appoint anyone but a caretaker manager.

“The boardroom situation needs sorting out prior to deciding who is manager.”

But other's said the managerial appointment was also a grave mistake by the board.

One supporter, who did not give his name, said: “This board of directors has taken one of the worst decisions in the last 50 years in appointing Bryan Gunn as manager. In my view they have made a catastrophic mistake already.

“Unless we get a consortium of businesses to come forward to buy her out we are basically stuck with Delia and Michael.”

But others said there was little choice for the club but to appoint Mr Gunn, a former Norwich City keeper, as permanent manager despite failing to save the team from relegation to League One in his 19 games in charge, with one speaker asking: “What seasoned manager is going to risk his reputation by coming to Norwich City?”

With passions clearly running high, the meeting heard calls for action to be taken to oust Ms Smith and Mr Wynn Jones from the board.

One supporter said: “We are one of the best supported teams in the country and we should be a mid to lower table Premiership team. Delia Smith has completely destroyed this football club and we should be doing everything in our power to make her life unbearable.

“That is the only way she will understand the damage she has done. I want her to leave this football club at the earliest opportunity.”

Others criticised the board for a lack of business acumen.

One fan said the fact the club was running at a loss showed a change of leadership was needed.

He added: “Norwich City is a business but the board has not been running it as a business. There needs to be someone on the board with a bit of business acumen. We can't go on running at a loss year after year.”

However, in a contrasting move, the Associate Directors Group - whose 27 members own five per cent of the club's shares - yesterday issued a call for unity among the supporter base as City head into the unchartered waters of League One next season.

Nigel Bertram, chairman of the Associate Directors Group, said after a meeting on Wednesday night: “It was an extremely positive meeting and the Group will be working closely with the Board in the future to assist in whatever way possible to return the club to the Championship,” said a statement from the Group, whose members have invested upwards of £675,000 in shares.

“The Associate Directors also gave their full backing to Bryan Gunn, Ian Butterworth, Ian Crook and John Deehan wishing them every success.”

Bertram, who, with his deputy Alan Bowkett, had made the initial calls for senior heads to roll, said it was time to start afresh.

“We have got to pick ourselves up and start from here,” he said. “It was a very open and frank meeting, very positive.

“We have got to move forward. It is not good keep harping back. The stall has been laid out and we have to get on with it.

“We have really got to get behind the management and give them every possible chance. Ian Butterworth has had experience in lower leagues, Dixie (John Deehan) I am told just works his socks off and goes from ground to ground.

“Bryan is a figurehead, a known figure in the industry.

“He has got to be given a chance and he has got to be given the support of 20,000 supporters.”

To see video footage from the meeting and for previous stories during the tumultuous week at Carrow Road visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk

What do you think abut the current developments at Carrow Road? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1 RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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