Norwich City’s search for investors draws a blank

Norwich City have drawn a blank from a worldwide search for new investment. Chairman Alan Bowkett told shareholders at the annual meeting at Carrow Road that the club had scoured the globe to try to find new backers, but to no avail.

The Canaries hired professional advisers Deloitte to lead the search for extra finance, which is continuing.

“We have approached 52 potential investors around the world - in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, the Far East, the United States and, of course, the UK,” said Bowkett.

“We have had some expressions of interest. But every time when I asked the question ‘Could you please verify you have funding?’ no one passed the test.

“We have searched throughout the world with the toughest advisers, but there is no one out there with real money in their pockets.

“I like to see the colour of someone’s money before we do any deals and no one has shown us any.”

Shareholders passed a resolution to revoke the maximum amount of shares that can be allotted by the club, and to allow the directors to allot new shares up to a nominal value of �1m – but in reality it could be worth 30 times that.

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“At present, if we were able to find a substantial investor in the football club, before we could allocate new shares we would have to offer it to all shareholders on equal terms to subscribe,” said Bowkett.

“That would firstly cost a lot of money, secondly take a lot of time and thirdly would only generate a small amount of money compared to that from a major investor.

“We would like to change this process to give us greater flexibility should we be able to find a new investor.

“It is perfectly normal procedure for a plc and I would like to stress that there is no imminent substantial new investor in the wings.”

City’s current debt stands at �20.9m but Bowkett said they expected to make a trading profit for the first time for six or seven years.

“We’ve taken a decision that we’re going to be self-sufficient in funding for the club,” he said.

“If we can find further investment that would be great but we’re not depending on it.

“We are well on the way to doing that – we have the support of our creditors, we’re performing ahead of budget. In fact I think we’re doing as well off the pitch as we are doing on the pitch.”

The other main business of the evening was the re-election to the board of Delia Smith, Stephan Phillips and new director Stephen Fry, who had to leave the meeting early to travel to Israel today.

Bowkett said after the meeting the board’s immediate priority was to find every penny for manager Paul Lambert’s playing budget with the Canaries fourth in the Championship and well placed to challenge for promotion.

“The key thing for me now is to see how much we can raise to support Paul in one push,” he said.

“It’s not very often you get in a position in January where you are a few points off the top of the league and we’re realistic enough to realise that a little more investment might secure that future, so we’re doing the best we can.”