‘Mistakes have been made’ - Norwich City chairman Ed Balls tells shareholders
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Ed Balls admitted mistakes had been made by Norwich City’s top brass and the ‘jury is still out’ regarding the new way forward at a sobering annual meeting with shareholders on Wednesday night at Carrow Road.
The Canaries’ chairman and managing director Steve Stone underlined the scale of the financial challenge facing the club if they fail to clinch Championship promotion this season.
Stone forecast a 21pc year-on-year drop in revenue for 2017/18, with broadcast revenue forecast to shrink to £38m (that includes the final parachute payment) compared to £71m during City’s last season in the Premier League.
The managing director did forecast a £2.1m profit for 2017/18, due largely to player trading, which saw the club bring in a surplus of £9.3m in transfer fees during this past summer and reduce the combined weekly salary of the playing squad by £173,000.
Balls confirmed sporting director Stuart Webber is under no pressure to sell players in the upcoming January transfer window, but acknowledged that trend would have to continue should the club remain in the Championship.
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“There is no financial pressure to make any changes to the squad in January,” he said. “There is no requirement to sell players. We can handle the deficit but of course if we want to bring in new players we would have to raise resources to do so.
“If we are not promoted at the end of this season we face a substantial financial challenge and tough decisions will have to be made.
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“Longer term, if we stay in the Championship the wage bill must be reduced and that will happen naturally as contracts end and we have to create a pipeline from the academy.
“So far it is fair to say we would have hoped for better results at this stage of the season.
“The jury is definitely out on the success of the changes we made to the football structure, based on current results. But the structure is now embedded. It takes time to deliver cultural and footballing change.”
Balls revealed the decision to adopt a radical approach was made as early as February 2017.
“Mistakes have been made,” he said. “But we have been dealing not only with the consequences of relegation from the Premier League but substantial liabilities we took on in the January 2016 window to try and stay in the Premier League, and we are still paying out millions now.
‘I would say it was a mistake in retrospect not to move to the new structure last summer.
“Appointing Jez Moxey was a mistake, and clearly expensive, but this has now enabled radical changes.
“We have tried to make cultural changes. The changes at Colney and the academy have been far-reaching because this gives us the best opportunity to get to the Premier League at the earliest opportunity. We have now reduced the wage bill and the average age of the first team squad.”