That time of year for Norwich City shareholders’ favourite board game
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Norwich City fans with a financial stake in the club get their opportunity of 30 seconds of fame on Wednesday night.
Whether you have invested a few quid in shares, or you’ve poured your life savings in and are worried about the kids’ inheritance, the club’s annual meeting is where you have the right to ask those you task with spending your money wisely, just what you are getting in return.
In football, the answer is usually, well, nothing. Not many football clubs turn a profit so not many shareholders will make a fortune handing over the contents of their piggy bank, or otherwise.
But you do get to ask questions, and in the Gunn Club at Carrow Road tonight, the club’s hierarchy will take to a stage, present their annual report, and then wait for the first hand to go up. Sometimes it takes a while for the first shareholder to put his or her head above the parapet.
A lot depends on the circumstances: a cold, wet night might deter a few who are ambivalent towards the whole thing. If there’s some decent footy on telly that might keep others away. But mostly, affairs of a financial nature and the performance of the team on the pitch dictate how big the audience and how robust the questioning.
MORE: What happened last year?An accurate prediction for tonight may well be that the top table won’t get pelters over the state of the team in the Championship. Everyone wants it to be better, but there’s no doubt there is still a measure of sympathy if you like about the new system finding its feet at Carrow Road. City broke with tradition when they appointed Stuart Webber as sporting director and then appointed a head coach in Daniel Farke, rather than a manager. That Farke came from Germany was another break with tradition. The fact neither man has spouted silliness from the rooftops predicting Premier League football next season and European campaigns on the horizon means we were never instilled with a belief other than this was a period of transition that would take time to come through.
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It’s the stock response on a Saturday evening after an indifferent result and/or performance. Time is needed, yada yada yada.
Shareholders by their very nature aren’t the sort who will be marching on Cardiff on Friday night, armed to the teeth with grim determination and vocal cords the size of Geoff Capes’ biceps.
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Don’t expect them to shout the Gunn Club roof down. They may mention the problems with the atmosphere, lack of, at home games, although it is probably partly of their own making. Best keep quiet eh?
And the quality of football on offer too – not exactly been scintillating of late, has it? That’s what people are paying for.
However, what they and many others will definitely be interested in are the next two transfer windows. January, because they will want to know - despite the back pages of this publication having told them already - who City are going to buy (probably no one) and who they might sell. The latter is more relevant, given that the accounts that will be presented and approved tonight reveal the club don’t have much in the way of readies.
Will they sell any major assets in January? Good question. The answer? At a guess it will be that they don’t have to, but if the right offer came along they would consider it.
If James Maddison continues playing the way he is, then the heat really will be on come June: there is little doubt he is one of the hottest properties around and there is no doubt City could do with the big money he will inevitably be worth.
Next question: will they sell? Answer: see above. Of course they will. It’s the template for survival and self-sufficiency: buy a player, improve him, sell when he makes a healthy profit.
There was a telling quote recently from Farke when talking about the real need to nurture young talent at the club. Referring to Josh Murphy he said: “Right now, if he was on a really high consistent level he would not play for Norwich City. At his age, Manchester City or Liverpool would buy him for £25m.”
That’s the future. Because that’s football.
Any more questions? There are more subjects, but expect the unexpected: quality of the sausage rolls, the price of soup, half-time entertainment, goal music (a perennial favourite), kit advertising, pre-season (some people like to book their holidays early) and rebuilding of the City Stand.
They’re all in the mix.