Collective strength, Premier League projects and VAR – Kensell on Norwich City’s season preparations

Norwich City chief operating officer Ben Kensell is a busy man as the Canaries prepare for their Pre

Norwich City chief operating officer Ben Kensell is a busy man as the Canaries prepare for their Premier League return in August. Picture: Michael Bailey/Archant - Credit: Archant

Norwich City’s collective strength will continue to be their biggest asset, as far as Ben Kensell is concerned.

From the Canaries' prized playing assets to the eye-catching job of sporting director Stuart Webber earning glances from Manchester United, City's success is starting to attract links from beyond the Norfolk border.

And while supporters may place their own faith in some of City's key personnel, chief operating office Kensell - part of the club's executive board alongside Webber plus business and project director Zoe Ward - is confident the club's current set-up has plenty more to achieve together.

"It's interesting because we're a team and we don't really look at individuals, and I think Stuart would say the same," said Kensell.

"I think Stuart couldn't do what he does without the phenomenal team he's got around him. I certainly couldn't. Zoe couldn't. Likewise the senior management team and all the staff around Carrow Road and Colney.

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"It's a proper team effort, just like it was on the pitch - whether you're the captain, the right-back. It doesn't really matter.

"Naturally people are going to get good press. You're also going to get bad press. And I think Stuart is level-headed enough to know there are good times and bad times.

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"We are all committed to the club. Why wouldn't we be? We've just got promoted and we want to take on some of the biggest teams in the country.

"So I don't think it's about an individual. It's about a collective and a group, I'm sure Stuart would say exactly the same thing and I'm quite certain we are all very committed moving forward."

While Norwich have a recent Premier League past, that has not made for a quiet summer in preparation for their top-flight return - with 30 infrastructure and criteria projects needing to be completed before the new season kicks off on the weekend of August 10.

Indeed, the jump in class off the pitch remains as compelling as the one on it.

"Not only is it a tight time frame, it also means quite a large investment," added Kensell. "You may get a lot of money from going into the Premier League, but you also have to spend a fair chunk of that on ensuring your stadium is fit for purpose.

"A lot of it, the fans unfortunately won't see - but there's some that are really visual, and they will. So it's a lot of hard work and the team behind the scenes has been phenomenal.

"They're working very hard to make sure we put on the best possible show when Premier League football returns."

New kit and sponsorship announcements - as well as the majority of City's pre-season schedule - are all in the pipeline for the coming weeks, as well as preparing for the arrival of VAR (video assistant referees) fresh from their use in the Women's World Cup and Nations League.

It was one of the key discussion points at the Premier League AGM held in Portugal last week, that officially welcomed the promoted clubs into the top flight for next season.

Kensell said: "How do we communicate it with fans in stadia? That's probably my biggest question mark and we've been working with the Premier League around how we do that using our big screen.

"VAR is a controversial subject in general but it's happening, it's going to work and be implemented into the game, so we've got to make sure the in-stadia piece is as informative as it can be and we've worked out a process for how that can happen - as have a lot of other Premier League clubs.

"VAR divides opinion…but we'll try to do our best. I think it will have teething problems - I think every fan knows it will - but we're pretty confident we will start on the front foot and I think you will see improvements as the season goes on across the Premier League around how this is rolled out."

- For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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