NCFC where's the money?
Disillusioned Norwich fans today sent a stark message to the club's board - “Show us the money”. Supporters' groups have hit out at the club after losing patience with its failure to bring in any new players during the summer.
Disillusioned Norwich fans today sent a stark message to the club's board - “Show us the money”.
Supporters' groups have hit out at the club after losing patience with its failure to bring in any new players during the summer.
While almost every other Championship side has recruited new players ahead of the new season, which kicks off on August 5, City are set to enter the new term with an even smaller squad than that which finished eighth last season.
Worried fans fear the inactivity is because Nigel Worthington is not being given the money to compete in the transfer market and are also at a loss to understand why more funds are not available.
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In January, the club sold star striker Dean Ashton to West Ham for £7.25 million; it has £6 million in Premiership parachute money for this season; it has recently signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with low-cost airline flybe and is one of the best supported sides in the Championship.
Fans' favourite Darren Huckerby has voiced his concern that no new faces have been added to the squad during the pre-season and Worthington has been unable to hide his own frustrations at the lack of activity.
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He admitted he had now run out of options in his search for a new hitman after losing out on his two top targets Rob Hulse and Steve Howard, who have signed for Sheffield United and Leeds respectively.
Roy Blower, chairman of the Norwich City Independent Supporters Association (NCISA), said today: “We are baffled by the lack of signings. We all realise that the club has got to be prudent, but there is a difference between being prudent and lacking ambition.”
Paul Webster, chairman of Capital Canaries, said: “It is very worrying that a team which finished eighth last season has not added to its squad. The fans would like to know what is going on because we have just two games to go before the start of the season and there is not enough time for players to come in and get used to playing in the team.”
Neil Doncaster, Norwich City chief executive, said the club was continuing to work with the manager to try to bring in new players. It would make every effort to bring in “the right players” to Carrow Road between now and the transfer deadline at the end of August.
“One thing that Nigel has said is that any new players have to be right,” he said. “They have to add something to the squad. We will not sign players just for the sake of it. There is a budget available to Nigel, although we can't compromise the club by saying exactly what that is while the transfer window is still open. When the window closes we fully intend to give more details on the financial situation at the club over the summer.”
At the end of last season Nigel Worthington said he wanted to make new signings and that the cash was there to do so.
However, a few weeks later, fans were left wondering exactly how much money the club had when chief executive Neil Doncaster admitted that making money available for signings out of the cash flow was “difficult”.
Since then the club has missed out on several targets, often to fellow Championship teams.
During this week alone, Worthington targets Steve Howard, Rob Hulse and Kevin Nicholls all put pen to paper elsewhere. Meanwhile several similarly sized clubs to Norwich, including Southampton, Birmingham and Coventry, have all spent millions of pounds on new players.
With just two pre-season games to go, one of which is the Craig Fleming testimonial at Carrow Road tonight against Newcastle, many fans say they are not looking forward to the new season.
David Garwood, chairman of the West Norfolk Canaries, said: “There is a sense of gloom and no one is looking forward to the games as they normally would.”
Ben East, of the Northern Canaries supporters' group, said: “I think that perhaps Worthington and the board have been a bit burnt by last season's signings who did not perform very well. But Huckerby said it, he has never been at a club where there have been no signings during the pre-season.”
The club came close to bankruptcy 10 years ago during the chairmanship of Robert Chase as it battled with massive debts.
Following his resignation a new board came in, including chef Delia Smith and her husband, publisher Michael Wynn Jones, who have since become majority shareholders.
The finances have been stabilised and a number of off-the-field developments, including Delia's restaurant and the sale of land around Carrow Road for apartments and a hotel, have helped bring in extra cash in to the club. The changes have also heralded a turnaround in fortunes on the field with the club securing a lucrative promotion to the Premiership for the 2004/05 season.
Since relegation the following season the club has made more than £8 million from outgoing transfers, mainly through the sales of Dean Ashton and Damien Francis. They have also enjoyed two parachute payments of £6 million. However supporters fear that the board lacks the ambition needed to return the club to the nation's top league.
Mr Blower said: “You look at other clubs and can't work out what is going on. Birmingham, Coventry, even Southend and Colchester have been signing players.
“These clubs have tiny crowds but we get full houses, do well with sponsoring and catering and still we don't appear to have any money free.”
Mr Webster said: “We are one of the few teams not to have spent any money and the fans are beginning to wonder what they have paid their money for.”
t Some of the financial transactions at Carrow Road since the start of the 2004/05 season
Youssef Safri (Coventry: £500,000)
Simon Charlton (Bolton: £250,000)
Gary Doherty (Tottenham: £1million)
Dean Ashton (Crewe: £3million)
Mattias Jonson (Brondby: £650,000)
Matthieu Louis-Jean (Nottm Forest: swap deal)
Jurgen Colin (PSV Eindhoven: £250,000)
Andy Hughes (Reading: £500,000)
Dickson Etuhu (Preston: £450,000)
Carl Robinson (Sunderland: £50,000)
Robert Earnshaw (West Brom: £3.5million)
Thomas Helveg (Inter Milan), Darren Ward (Nottm Forest), Graham Stuart (Charlton), Jason Jarrett (Wigan), Peter Thorne (Cardiff) All Free
t Total: £10.15million
OTHER MAJOR INCOME:
t Roughly £17million Premiership money, including initial payment and television cash
t An estimated £12million over this season and last as parachute money from the Premiership.
t A new multi-million pound kit sponsorship deal with flybe for the next two seasons.
t Gate receipts and record season ticket sales which have doubled in the last five years to around 20,000.
t An estimated £6million from the sale of land behind the Norwich and Peterborough stand for flats
Malky Mackay (West Ham: £300,000)
Mathias Svensson (Elfsborg: £100,000)
Gary Holt (Nottm Forest: Swap Deal)
Thomas Helveg (Monchengladbach: £135,000)
Mattias Jonson (Djurgaardens: £650,000)
Damien Francis (Wigan: £1.5million)
Dean Ashton (West Ham: £7.25million)
Clint Easton (Wycombe), Mark Rivers (Crewe), Paul Crichton (York), Dean Sinclair (Barnet), Zema Abbey (Wycombe), Keith Briggs (Stockport), Marc Edworthy (Derby), Danny Crow (Peterborough), Phil Mulryne (Cardiff), Jim Brennan (Southampton) All Free
t Total: 9.935million
t Wages and bonus payments, which increased upon promotion to Premiership
t New £6million Jarrold stand and extra loan repayments for that.
t New £2.5million infill between Norwich and Peterborough and Jarrold Stands
t Nearly £1million for improvements to pitch and perimeter during Premiership year.
A HISTORY OF SELLING OFF PLAYERS FOR PROFIT:
Every Norwich fan remembers the dark old days of the mid-1990s when the club went from glory to the gutter.
Hot on the heels of that famous UEFA Cup run, when Norwich beat Bayern Munich and were narrowly defeated by Italian giants Inter Milan, supporters hoped that years of Premiership football would follow.
Instead, a mixture of debts and lack of ambition saw the Canaries quickly become a selling club, its successful youth set-up simply acting as a feeder for the bigger clubs.
First to go were European stars Ruel Fox and Chris Sutton, just days after former chairman Robert Chase's now infamous “if Sutton goes, I go” speech.
Sutton went, Chase stayed, and, while the club netted a small fortune, relegation swiftly followed. Over the next few years Darren Eadie, Keith O Neil and Craig Bellamy were three other players to leave for fees of a million pounds or more.
A new board, including chef Delia Smith and her husband, the publisher Michael Wynn-Jones, brought more financial stability to the club and also a return to the Premier League.
For a while it appeared that the days as a selling club were over, as millions of pounds was spent trying to build a squad aimed at staving off relegation.
It failed, and since relegation, the sale of players for a profit has again become a feature, with Damien Francis moving to Wigan for £1.5 million, a profit of about 1.2 million, and record signing Dean Ashton to West Ham for £7.25 million, a profit of £4.25 million. Speculation is mounting that goalkeeper Robert Green could be next in line to move, with Portsmouth, Charlton and Everton among those to have been linked to the England international.
The board has worked so hard to ensure the club is kept on a firm footing, with “prudence with ambition” its catchphrase. But fans will now be pondering the financial picture should City fail to win promotion in its last year of parachute payments.
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY:
This summer has been a case of what might have been for Norwich fans who have looked on in envy as rival sides snapped up players linked with the Canaries.
It has become a familiar feeling among fans to wait excitedly for news on the latest player to be linked to the Canaries - only to find that he has pledged his allegiance elsewhere.
Following last season's Championship disappointments Nigel Worthington was quick to announce that his pre-season priority was to sign a striker to partner Rob Earnshaw and a right-winger.
Many fans also believe the slimline squad also requires a new centre back, right back and possibly even extra cover in the centre of midfield.
In the weeks after the 2005/06 season the rumour mill was buzzing with stories about potential Norwich targets.
Released Birmingham City defender Kenny Cunningham and West Ham centre back Elliot Ward were both linked with Norwich. The club was also said to be attempting to bring back former loan favourite Calum Davenport from Tottenham Hotspur and reported to be tracking unsettled Colchester winger Neil Danns.
However, none of these came to fruition with Cunningham moving to Sunderland, Ward going to Coventry and Danns opting for Birmingham, which is also believed to be the likely destination for Davenport. The Blues also signed former Canary target Cameron Jerome from Cardiff City.
Following the traditional lull in transfer dealing during the World Cup, the rumours started again in July.
But with the start of the season looming the disappointment has continued.
Stoke City midfielder Luke Chadwick chose to stay in the Midlands, rumours about young Arsenal star Theo Walcott appearing on loan appeared to be nothing more than idle gossip and speculation about a host of other players failed to lead to any signings.
Insult was added to injury this week when three known long-time Worthington targets, Leeds striker Rob Hulse, Luton forward Steve Howard and Luton midfielder Kevin Nicholls were snapped up, by Sheffield United for £2.2 million, Derby for £1 million and Leeds for £700,000 respectively.