Tough days ahead for Canaries

Norwich City's sporting director Stuart Webber is striving to ensure the club can handle the footbal

Norwich City's sporting director Stuart Webber is striving to ensure the club can handle the footballing impact of a global pandemic Picture Tony Thrussell/Archant - Credit: Tony Thrussell

Stuart Webber insists Norwich City will do whatever it takes to ensure there is a viable football club for the future in the midst of the global pandemic.

City’s decision to access the government’s job retention scheme brought widespread criticism, while there continues to be an on going debate around the topic of player wage deferrals right across the Premier League.

Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan claimed as many as 50 clubs could go out of business, as the game draws up plans for when and how to return should the government and public health bodies ease the current lockdown.

City were represented at Friday’s latest Premier League shareholders’ video meeting, which reaffirmed a desire to complete the 2019/20 campaign

Webber and the rest of City’s executive committee mapped out the stark financial reality only last week, with the Premier League strugglers potentially facing a loss of £35m.

But the club’s sporting director feels all the work, on and off the park, since he arrived in 2017 means they are better placed than many rivals to come through the coronavirus crisis.

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“Over the years here we’ve built up a strong culture of togetherness and a strong culture and bond between the players, the club and the fans,” he said. “And they know, we all know, that difficult times are coming and that we are trying to protect our club and our community.

“More difficult discussions will come in the days ahead but at the moment it’s about finding out exactly what’s going to happen so that when we know the damage we can start thinking about how are we going to sort it.

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“It’s not just about sitting opposite someone, albeit via a camera, with a gun pointing to their head and backing them into corners. We’ve already got a lot of trust but it’s about building that trust, being completely transparent and honest.”

Webber hopes by revealing the potential financial costs City fans can understand the true scale of the challenge ahead.

“Since I’ve been here we may not always have done the right thing, but we’ve always tried to and have never tried to be underhand,” he said, speaking recently. “I’m pretty sure we’ve always paid our taxes and those sort of things on time, so I think everyone can appreciate we’re not a business trying to do anything underhand.”

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