‘Football will change for the better’ - Lambert eyes a silver lining

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

He may have crossed the East Anglian divide but many Norwich City supporters will hope former Canaries boss Paul Lambert is correct in his assessment of the financial impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on football.

Ipswich will reportedly see their League One campaign brought to a conclusion later this week, with the EFL expected to bring an early end to the third and fourth tiers due to the health crisis.

Town had slipped to 10th and seven points from the play-off places when football was suspended in mid-March, after four consecutive defeats, so their chances of bouncing straight back to the Championship were already slim.

“When life has finally returned to normal, I think football will change for the better,” Lambert told the Guardian. “We should see the reversal of a power balance that has swung the wrong way for too long, switching it back in favour of the clubs.

“I would certainly expect that to happen in the divisions below the Premier League, where the financial implications of Covid-19 are hitting particularly hard. Players and agents will have to lower their expectations, and we will see fewer instances of football clubs being held to ransom over deals and contracts.

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“Anyone going in saying ‘this guy wants this money, and I want this amount for doing the deal’, might have to face a new reality. Do you want the club to go out of existence, and then there’s no club to play at? If agents ask too much then clubs will say ‘no problem, we’ll do something else’.”

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The former Celtic midfielder, who led Norwich from League One to Premier League safety between 2009 and 2012, continued: “Recruitment will change and that may well see more youth players becoming involved. At Ipswich we have a really talented group from under-15s and under-16s upwards. I know that if we can’t go out and spend a certain amount, we can bring these guys in and develop them.

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“The supporters can relate to that. Mass gatherings look like the very last port of call but I think a positive knock-on effect will ultimately be that fans and players are brought closer together, and the atmosphere in most stadiums could improve.”

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