City's player trading hit by BK8 fiasco
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Stuart Webber estimates the financial impact of the pandemic to Norwich City now stands at £35m.
The Canaries’ sporting director promised honesty and transparency from his first day in the job in 2017, and that continued on Thursday at a Carrow Road briefing sat alongside head coach Daniel Farke.
A new four-year deal for Farke and his coaching team had whipped up the feelgood factor among City fans but Webber insisted even a return to lucrative Premier League revenue streams still presents challenges for a self-funded club.
Webber made it clear the recent BK8 sponsorship fiasco will hit his transfer strategy in the weeks ahead, compounded by losing over an entire season of matchday revenue.
“We didn’t have to sell Emi because of the pandemic, probably more so Ben Godfrey, because when it started to become apparent fans would not be present for the last Championship season we could then predict the scale of the losses,” he said, with Godfrey departing for Everton last summer.
“When you are a self-funded club the way you try to claw that back is being successful on the pitch and getting to the Premier League. Or unfortunately player trading. Those are our two biggest income streams as a club.
“You see what just happened with a major sponsorship deal this summer. That hits player trading, whether people want to hear that or not. It is the truth. There is a lot of money on a deal like that. There is no other way we claim that money back commercially. It is player trading that takes a hit. That is the challenge and the balance we are trying to achieve. Those are the conditions we work to.”
Webber reiterated on Thursday City remain in a far better shape than the club he first encountered.
“One of the things that attracted me was there is an expectation and a pressure to achieve things from the fan base,” he said. “Being self-funded and surviving is quite easy if you are not worried about results and league placings.
"But balancing off the financial constraints with trying to be ambitious is much harder. Look at the work that has gone on at the training ground in a bid to make it a world class facility. That is tough when it is tempting to just buy a player rather than upgrade a gym.
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“Let us not forget we have lost £35m from this pandemic, which is an incredible amount for this football club, but we are coming through it without debts and without the need for outside investment.
"We should all be proud of that, even in the midst of a pandemic no-one could have predicted. I have worked at clubs where an owner can just write a cheque if things go wrong. But if we make four or five bad decisions here we have no-one to bail us out.”
Both Webber and Farke are on the same page that City need to remain active in this transfer window, to give the German a fighting chance of avoiding another swift top flight exit.
“The job is not done so we still have lots of work to do in the final part of pre-season and in terms of working on the squad,” said Farke. “We still need some more options and if we’re really successful we can judge this when the transfer window is over at the end of August.
“We want to be as far as possible with signings once the season starts and in a good shape. Then, at the end of August, to be in a position with our squad, not to cut the league into pieces, but to attack every game, be competitive and fight for points.
“We’re fully aware of the size of the challenge because we’re the only self-funding club and it’s still not possible for us to spend money like all the others do, even some of our competitors after promotion.
“When I think about Watford, they’ve played many years in a row before they were relegated on Premier League level so, not being jealous, but their financial situation is a different one. Hopefully we are also one day in such a situation that we can spend that much money."