Norwich City are no longer a soft touch, says Bowkett

Chris Lakey Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett insisted last night that Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling was standing in the way of settling the dispute between the two clubs.

Chris Lakey

Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett insisted last night that Colchester United chairman Robbie Cowling was standing in the way of settling the dispute between the two clubs.

City and United are at loggerheads over the way the Canaries recruited boss Paul Lambert from the Essex club back in August, with Cowling calling on a Football League Disciplinary Tribunal to dish out the most severe punishment - a loss of valuable League One points.

"My feelings is that negotiations take two to tango," said Bowkett during last night's annual meeting at Carrow Road when he and chief executive David McNally proved to a packed house that City's Mr Nice Guy image is a thing of the past.


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"We made a lawful approach to Colchester United to ask permission to talk to Paul. The compensation required by Robbie Cowling in my view bordered on the ridiculous.

"This club is not a pushover and never will be while I am chairman."

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Bowkett revealed recently that he had received a frosty welcome from Cowling during the game at Colchester on January 16 - when City emerged 5-0 winners - and it appears the relationship between the two has changed little.

"We have had meetings to try and settle it, we have tried to negotiate, we have offered mediation and to be perfectly blunt I think the only way to solve this is by going to a tribunal.

"The Football League have never had a tribunal on this and never deducted points.

"We have made an over-generous offer to settle Colchester United's claim. My view is that even the majority of Colchester United's directors want to settle, but one individual needs to come to the table to negotiate."

The matter is in the hands of City's legal team, whose workload has increased with the decision to take the News of the World to court over claims the club was heading for administration.

It has increased the perception that McNally and Bowkett have swapped the velvet gloves for something rather stronger.

"There is nothing wrong with being nice, and that may not be a descriptive for me or Alan Bowkett, but that doesn't matter because we have plenty of nice people in the football club," said McNally.

"This football club is unique - in a one-club city, a one-club county we truly are a community club where this club means so much to the community. There is a real sense of belonging and that's really important. Niceness and being nice all fit with that. We all promise whilst we are here, however long they will have us, is that we won't be soft.

"We will not be soft and there is a really important difference for me between being nice and being soft.

"We won't be pushovers, that's for sure."

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