Melissa Rudd: So much for fans to ponder - both on and off the pitch
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It says a lot about where Norwich City find themselves at this moment in time that matters on the pitch were almost a sideshow this week.
In a season of transition, of cost-cutting, of trying to balance the books in every way possible, it is little wonder really that by March the only thing left to battle it out for is a higher finish than Ipswich Town.
The reaction to the launch of the Canaries Bond to fund redevelopment of the Academy at Colney seemed to be met with disdain and praise in equal measure.
On the face of it, it is not difficult to see why the premise of asking fans who already pay some of the Championship’s highest season ticket fees to invest more money has rankled some. Especially in the knowledge that previous regimes have had millions of pounds in Premier League television money and parachute payments at their disposal.
Delve a little deeper though and it seems an innovative platform for supporters to invest in the future of their club. Setting clear terms on what the money will be used for, in the form of a miniature model of what the new and improved facilities would look like, sets out the vision that Stuart Webber has for ensuring talent is nurtured through the corridors of Colney.
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Asking supporters to invest in this way seems fairer than implementing an automatic opt-out £19 Academy donation to every season ticket purchase, as the club has done in previous years. It is clearly targeted at those who want to and are able to invest, and it doesn’t feel like loyal fans are being exploited for an extra few quid unless they instruct the ticket office otherwise.
Perhaps some of the ill-feeling towards this latest venture stems from the board members themselves stating they will be investing in the scheme, but failing to disclose how much. Whatever your opinion, it remains clear that Norwich City Football Club is paying the price for previous mismanagement of funds. The powers that be now are simply trying their best to address the financial deficit they have inherited and secure its long-term future, and it seems harsh to be critical of a hope that we all share.
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Back to football, and Tuesday’s dire 0-0 draw at home to Forest and Saturday’s goal-fest at Hull couldn’t have been more contrasting in terms of action and entertainment. Fortunately, the travelling fans had been spared a performance so defensively error-strewn since August’s Millwall mauling.
But given the predicament of the opposition, who prior to the weekend had won fewer points at home than Norwich this campaign, and the fact that for only the second time in the league City managed to score three goals, a 4-3 defeat felt like a particularly poor result.
A return of two points from nine against three teams beneath them in the Championship table is an appalling return for Daniel Farke’s side and shows just how much work needs to be done this summer to make a play-off push a realistic target next season. Remove hat-trick hero James Maddison from the mix and that task becomes all the more mammoth.
This Friday marks the final deadline for those fans who pay for their season ticket by Direct Debit to opt-out of renewing for next season. While investing in the future of the Academy is a long-term project, the likelihood is that more supporters will be considering whether a short-term one in the form of a season ticket for 2018-19 is worth it as City’s lowest Championship finish in a decade looms. In purely financial terms, each goal celebrated at Carrow Road has cost season ticket holders almost £30 so far given Norwich have averaged fewer than a goal per home game.
The events of the past seven days have confirmed that the fanbase is split on many of the burning issues coming out of Carrow Road, none more so than the football itself under Farke’s stewardship. So much of the recent talk has been regarding the future of the club, but the reality is if results continue in the same vein more questions may be asked as to whether the current head coach is the right man to lead City into it.