Safe-standing, Farke, investment and January discussed at City's AGM

Sam Hall, Delia Smith, Michael Wynn Jones and Thomas Smith at the annual general meeting at Carrow R

Joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones alongside company secretary Sam Hall, left, and director Tom Smith, right, at Norwich City's 2021 AGM - Credit: Danielle Booden

Stuart Webber revealing he will stay at Norwich City may have been the headline news but there was plenty of ground covered at the club’s annual general meeting last night. 

Confirmation of a fan consultation on introducing safe-standing at Carrow Road, continued preparatory work on potential stadium expansion and the January transfer window were all covered. 

An overriding theme of the night was kicked off by director Stephan Phillips, who chaired the AGM, as he congratulated Michael Foulger and joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones for 25 years on the board. 

Potential financial investment in the club was also touched on but finance director Anthony Richens said there was “nothing to jump about at the moment” and that when any approaches are made by potential investors, anything viable is taken to the majority shareholders to assess. 

"As you're probably aware, clubs are approached quite regularly, from a different variety of people. What we tend to do is vet those enquiries," he explained.

"A lot of them aren't credible but any that we believe are credible or for consideration, we of course passed to Michael and Delia."

Phillips brought one of the biggest laughs of the night as he joked: "No signs of any camels, then."

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The exit of Daniel Farke was discussed and put straight to sporting director Webber by a shareholder as being “harsh” in the way his dismissal was delivered after victory at Brentford. 

Webber challenged those present to propose a good time to sack someone, saying he thought the support from the City fans at Brentford was the best he’d seen in his time at the club and that he was so relieved that Farke had gone out on a high. 

Describing the German as a ‘legend’ of the club and a ‘friend’ that he would look forward to giving a hug the next time he saw him, Delia Smith added her perspective as well. 

Michael Foulger, Stuart Webber and Ian Thornton at the annual general meeting at Carrow Road. Pictur

From left, director Michale Foulger, sporting director Stuart Webber and Community Sports Foundation chief executive Ian Thornton at the 2021 Norwich City AGM - Credit: Danielle Booden

“Michael and I were extremely fond of Daniel and his team,” she said. “Although we didn’t have the chance to speak with them, we’ve written to him and his team. 

“We told them that we would love to keep in touch and that they would be welcome at the club at any time.” 

Webber was also asked about the potential for spending in January following Dean Smith’s arrival as head coach and said it “won’t be a lot” due to the big amount spent in the summer and that someone would have to be sold to generate significant funds. 

The formal business passed without incident as usual, with Tom Smith and Wynn Jones the directors up for re-election this year, both passing with large majorities. 

With around 70 shareholders also joining online, as was the case for everyone in 2020 due to Covid-19, there was warm applause for the mentions of the 25-year anniversaries for the directors, as well as for news of Webber extending his stay and when Farke’s achievements were mentioned.

Presentations on the continuing good work of the Community Sports Foundation were also included and the opening of phase two of The Nest, near Norwich Airport – with fund-raising for phase three to start next year, for a sports hall. 

Anthony Richens, finance director, at the annual general meeting at Carrow Road. Picture: Danielle B

Anthony Richens, finance director, at Norwich City's annual general meeting at Carrow Road - Credit: Danielle Booden

As well as surmising the annual financial report that was published a month ago, business and project director Zoe Ward listed some of the main achievements of the past year. 

Youth development, the club-record sale of Emi Buendia to Aston Villa in a £38m deal, the building of the SoccerBot360 at Colney and the overall improvements at the Lotus Training Centre were all highlighted, as well as the re-opening and refurbishment of Yellows restaurant. 

As usual, the question-and-answer session brought the most interesting elements, with Ward explaining that a fan consultation on safe-standing was planned and that club bosses “are keen” to make those changes if supporters want them. 

The potential expansion of Carrow Road as a whole was a similar story to previous years though, with Ward saying: “We are conscious of the need to start that journey and we are talking to companies that we would potentially engage in such a project. 

“It’s not like there’s going to be a spade in the ground next year but we know longer term we need to do it and we’re committed to doing that.” 

Zoe Ward, business and project director, at the annual general meeting at Carrow Road. Picture: Dani

Zoe Ward, business and project director, at Norwich City's annual general meeting at Carrow Road - Credit: Danielle Booden

The prospect of a fan representative being added to the board brought a response from Delia Smith to point out that the directors are all supporters of the club, although Wynn Jones added that the board would be open to considering such suggestions. 

The summer sponsorship debacle of the aborted deal with gambling firm BK8 also reared its ugly head, with Ward explaining that an internal investigation had found that not enough "due diligence" was carried out and that a wider group of people would make such decisions in future. 

With a glass of champagne offered to all present to mark the 25-year anniversary of the three directors, Phillips brought the meeting to a close with a joke at the prime minister’s expense, saying he hoped his presenting hadn’t resembled ‘bumbling Boris’. 

NCFC EXTRA: Norwich City sporting director staying on rolling contract