Statement from Delia and Michael
In response to recent criticism of the Norwich City board, majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones have released the following statement on the club's official website:Where, many of you may be thinking, are Delia and Michael in all this? Are the Stowmarket Two lurking in the shadows, ducking for cover, afraid to stand up and face the music? Not at all, we're still very much here, alive and kicking and now, at an appropriate time, wanting to share our thoughts with all of you.
In response to recent criticism of the Norwich City board, majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones have released the following statement on the club's official website:
Where, many of you may be thinking, are Delia and Michael in all this? Are the Stowmarket Two lurking in the shadows, ducking for cover, afraid to stand up and face the music?
Not at all, we're still very much here, alive and kicking and now, at an appropriate time, wanting to share our thoughts with all of you. We watch carefully, listen attentively and most importantly, reflect on what we see and hear from all our widespread and sometimes far-flung supporters.
That done, here are our conclusions. It is entirely reasonable that supporters' groups hold public meetings and air their views: They are passionate fans who want the best for NCFC. We respect that and we are happy to listen and have a dialogue with their representatives.
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Above all, we agree that though we find ourselves majority shareholders, the Club does not in any way belong to us: it belongs to its supporters and we merely count ourselves amongst them. Our remit, alongside the Chairman and the Board, is to serve our supporters in the very best way we can. We, too, are deeply passionate and what we are asking now is that we might be permitted a hearing too.
The first thing to say quite categorically is that the money we have given (we do not, as some have assumed, take any interest on any loans) has been given for no other purpose than trying to ensure the success of NCFC. There is nothing else remotely in it for us and we are not going to compromise 35 years of hard-earned income - not to mention ten years of hard work and graft at Carrow Road - because we allegedly have some special relationship with the manager. Anyone who suggests that does not know us remotely.
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As members of the Board it is our duty to take a longer-term perspective on the future of the Club. No-one could be more disappointed in this season than we are, but what has made it even more painful for all of us is the level of expectation. The bookies and the media made us certainties for instant promotion, without pointing out by way of balance that only nine out the last 40 clubs relegated have in fact bounced straight back.
Like football supporters the world over, if we're not winning we're not happy. But simple commonsense demands that if we were honest, no-one has success all of the time, though like every club that is what we strive for. The temptation then is to react dramatically when things are not going well, and in the sort of roller-coaster season we have had, the temptation is even greater. On that basis, should West Ham, for instance, have sacked their manager a year ago when some supporters demanded they should do so?
Grass-roots football in this country is struggling to survive. The advent of Sky money meant the break-away Premiership has creamed off most of it and is able to buy the best players in the world, even multi-million pound back-up players. Comparatively the rest of us have few resources. Getting there is one hell of an achievement, but we did it and during our first six months we pitched a £4 million squad against the best in the world. OK we missed out by one point, but given our means it was always going to be tough call. Compare that with Birmingham, who beat us on penalties at Cardiff. They have a squad that cost £42 million and right now they are struggling to survive too.
It's not rocket science: Football with limited resources is very tough indeed. But let's consider the record of Nigel's tenure. Year one, we were saved from the threat of relegation. Year two, we went to the play-off finals in Cardiff. Year three, we finished eighth. Year four, we won the Championship. Year five, we competed in the Premiership. Year six, we are currently tenth in the Championship.
This record compares favourably with other successful managers in the Championship - and this is the kind of long-term objectivity that a responsible Board has to build into its on-going debating and decision-making process.
Rebuilding has been forced on us by the exodus of players over recent months - some did have contracts offered but turned them down, some made it clear they would only play in the Premiership, yet others had clauses in their contracts which released them if we didn't retain our Premiership status. Rebuilding is not an instant process: you have frustrations and false starts. Not every new player has settled straight into the team but some of them have gone on to become City legends given time and support. Injuries conspire to prevent continuity (and so far this season we've unfortunately had many more than in previous years) - and confidence goes out of the window.
Rebuilding confidence is a delicate affair. Unfortunately disappointment can lead to a strained and at times negative atmosphere in the ground. This in turn can become a major factor contributing to you losing more. It simply undermines the team. Under these circumstances silence or counter-productive chants and boos will not win us matches. On a personal note here, between us we have nearly 90 years of supporting Norwich and neither of us have before heard a section of the crowd booing when we are winning!
Just over a year ago we were losing 4-1 at home to Middlesbrough with 11 minutes to go. The crowd responded magnificently and raised the roof at Carrow Road - the team responded in kind with a comeback which will live long in our memories. We are not calling for blind faith - we are simply noting the effect that positive support can have on the team.
Please believe us when we say we are doing our very best to achieve success for NCFC in the long term. We do not serve your best interests by thinking one-dimensionally, we do have to consider the wider picture. But know this, if the time does come when we all collectively feel the manager is not right, we will have no hesitation in changing things.
A degree of stability has been achieved at Norwich by a lot of hidden and unheralded work - we now need your help to maintain that stability. The Oxford dictionary defines a supporter as one who 'holds up' or 'stands beside' - and we are totally aware of the tremendous patience and support we are still receiving, but we would beg those who are disappointed right now to join us in pulling together. It simply isn't possible to succeed on limited resources unless we do.
Divided, we face disruption and chaos. United, we really can achieve our dream. Please support us and help us to do just that.
On The Ball City forever.