Robbie Savage is wrong - the Premier League needs clubs like Norwich City

Todd Cantwell of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Sky Bet Championship match

Norwich City's imminent Premier League return has been met with a collective sigh from the rest of the top-flight. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

You can almost sense the collective sigh as eyes are drawn to the top of the Championship and the rest of the Premier League see Norwich City leading the way. 

Few have encapsulated that better than ex-footballer and pundit Robbie Savage, who seemed to use the Canaries' geography and lack of spending power as a stick to beat them with. 

If the Premier League is the best league in the world, as many consider it to be, then it is made stronger for a diversity of thought. It should contain teams that go against the grain and opt to do things their way. 

Savage has just taken a role in the reformed Macclesfield Town, he should know more than anyone the power of sustainability and the importance of prudent financial management in football. 

The conclusion may be the same, Norwich could get relegated again. They won't invest on the same level as Aston Villa did two years ago or the manner in which Leeds United have, whilst all being backed by wealthy benefactors.  

More than anything, that's why they need to survive in the top-flight because it sends a message to everyone in the football pyramid that financial muscle doesn't decide your footballing level.

Let's be frank, if it did, they would struggle to compete in the Championship. Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones will always struggle to compete with the wealthiest owners in the land. They are millionaires being permitted a season in a playground built for the billionaires. 

But for supporters, another relegation, whilst frustrating and disappointing, would mean another ride of the rollercoaster that sees Norwich swap divisions. Some of the happiest moments supporters have been born via promotion campaigns.

Most Read

Naturally, you want to see your team compete against the best in the world, but seeking to gain 40 points year on year isn't as appetising for some supporters when compared with the fun of a Championship promotion push.

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke during the Sky Bet Championship match at Hillsborough, SheffieldPi

City have stuck with Daniel Farke despite relegation. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Unlike sides that push all their resources towards maintaining their top-flight status, Norwich have pushed their limited finance around. 

They now have a much-improved training centre, they possess an academy that is the envy of other clubs in the country and they refuse to jeopardise the longevity of the club by spending beyond their means. 

It might not necessarily be the right way. But it's a unique approach that, realistically, every club beyond the 'top six' should be looking to replicate. Will it bring them Champions League football or league titles? No. But then, for the vast majority of sides, neither does spending hundreds of millions of pounds. 

On some occasions, that barely guarantees top-flight survival, if at all. 

Norwich are not a side destined for relegation. They are trailblazers for running a self-sustainable and tight knitted ship. When Savage says City should 'have a go', he's talking about the club breaking a model they have worked tirelessly to construct by buying players for extortionate prices. 

He forgets when they did have a go. He forgets the damage the signing of Steven Naismith, for example, did to the club. It left a £20million hole that needed filling or City would have been in a dark place.

Sheffield United, who have just dispensed with their manager Chris Wilder, face a high wage bill after spending big in search of building upon their Premier League success last season. 

Now they head back into the Championship without the leader who brought them there, an inflated wage bill and no improvements in their facilities. 

Parachute payments will bridge the gap, but an overhaul will be needed should they fail to reach the top-flight. That was a position Norwich found themselves a couple of years ago, Farke described how they were 'paying for the sins of the past' throughout last season.

With Premier League survival comes improved finances. Then comes bigger transfer fees. The custodians of the club have refused to gamble top-flight safety against the club's future. 

Can Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber find quality in the free transfer market? Picture: Matthew Usher/

Stuart Webber has sought to transform City's culture. - Credit: Matthew Usher/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich's way isn't necessarily the right way. But it is so far removed from anyone else in the Premier League. It is the equivalent of a lightweight competing in a heavyweight bout. 

But this time, they are better equipped to stay there. 

As for the geography of it all, well, Norwich fans have to travel away 19 times in a typical Premier League season. They always manage to sell out their away allocation, if they can do it whilst paying for a ticket, then Robbie Savage can do it on the odd occasion whilst working on television and getting paid for the privilege. 

Savage is wrong. The Premier League needs clubs like Norwich City to prove that investing in infrastructure and recruiting smartly is sustainable and that top-flight survival doesn't need to come at the cost of financial disarray. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus