Webber's contract and future plans on the AGM agenda for City

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber during a press conference at Carrow Road, Norwich. Pict

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber is out of contract at the end of this season - Credit: PA

Norwich City’s annual general meeting will return to its usual set-up at Carrow Road this evening, with a wide range of subjects expected to be discussed.

City’s board of directors and senior management will take questions from shareholders as in previous years, after last year’s AGM was held online as a live presentation due to the Covid-19 pandemic with pre-submitted questions being answered. 

Those still not comfortable with attending an indoor meeting have been given the option to watch online but it’s expected that many shareholders will be in attendance. 

Previous AGMs have featured all manner of memorable moments, from Delia Smith being asked about the match-day sausage rolls and Jez Moxey’s ill-fated ‘promotion, promotion, promotion’ declaration, to Ben Kensell’s angry response to a rude question about commercial income and Glenn Roeder being booed for saying ‘I must have missed your tenure as England manager’ as he was grilled. 

It’s believed new head coach Dean Smith will not be present, having been at the club for less than a fortnight, but Daniel Farke also wasn’t involved last year with City seeing the AGM as a forum for discussing broader business issues rather than on-pitch specifics. 

Ahead of tonight’s meeting, here are some of the key subjects that could be covered. 

Webber’s contract 

Sporting director Stuart Webber is expected to be on the top table, having said in interviews at the end of last month that he expected his future to be sorted during the November international break. 

The Welshman had insisted it wasn’t a priority internally, with full focus on the first team’s fortunes in the Premier League. He has been busy with the search for the new head coach recently though, of course. 

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It’s believed a rolling contract was the potential answer to Webber’s deal expiring in the summer of 2022. He had previously suggested that would be a time when he looks for a new challenge but also that he wouldn’t leave the club in the lurch. 

However, with Brexit and the pandemic having a big impact on the sporting world since signing a three-year contract in September 2019, it’s thought those personal plans may have been postponed. 

Key changes 

The AGM arrives less than two weeks since Smith’s appointment, signing a contract until 2024 alongside assistant head coach Craig Shakespeare. 

Farke and his backroom team had only signed four-year deals in July following last season’s Championship title triumph, with the extent of compensation yet to be disclosed. 

The annual meeting also provides the opportunity to reflect, with it only being six months ago that Farke was celebrating becoming the first Norwich boss to win two second-tier titles, joining Ken Brown in achieving two promotions. 

Succession planning 

The meeting is being held just a few days before Sunday’s 25th anniversary of Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones becoming directors in 1996. 

With the joint majority shareholders both having celebrated their 80th birthdays this year, the AGM provides shareholders the opportunity to ask about future plans for their shares and the latest thoughts on whether fresh investment is required. 

Stephan Phillips, Michael Wynn Jones, Delia Smith and Michael Foulger at the Norwich City AGM 2017.

Joint majority shareholders Michael Wynn Jones and Delia Smith enjoy a lighter moment at Norwich City's 2017 AGM, alongside fellow directors Stephan Phillips, left, and Michael Foulger - Credit: Nick Butcher

Financial stability 

As usual, the AGM follows around a month after the publication of the Canaries’ annual report and financial results. 

A pre-tax profit of £21.5million was posted for the 11 months up to June 30 of this year, despite an operating loss of £26.5m and losing a total of around £30m in expected income during the last two financial years due to the pandemic. 

Almost £60m generated from player sales played a key part in City not only surviving but managing to achieve promotion and commit to the most expensive transfer window in the club’s history, with around £60m spent initially and a potential further £20m to follow if Premier League survival can be achieved. 

Painting the picture of the financial future and how the January transfer window will be approached are likely to be hot topics amid that financial stability of the club’s self-sustainable model. 

Fresh look 

The new club crest was revealed on Tuesday, with the City directors having been part of the thorough consultation that resulted in the modernised version of the traditional crest. 

Discussion of that process and reaction to the crest being revealed are sure to be involved, ahead of coming into use next June. 

Infrastructure 

City also revealed the next phase of development for the Lotus Training Centre last month, as the extensive improvements at Colney in recent years were publicised following the unveiling of the Soccerbot360 facility. 

Planning permission is being sought for a swimming pool and hydrotherapy building, as well as an administration and media building, but it is not known when this work could be scheduled to begin yet. 

The proposed recovery hub at the Lotus Training Centre

The proposed hydrotherapy recovery hub at the Lotus Training Centre - Credit: Norwich City FC

Previous AGMs have also featured discussions of long-term plans for the expansion of Carrow Road but with the impact of the pandemic and top-flight status being far from certain, it seems unlikely significant progress will be announced on that front. 

As well as the formal business of re-electing directors and approving the annual report, another previously discussed subject is the introduction of safe standing, with Norwich having been at the forefront of that discussion in recent years. 

Supporters will be keen to hear the latest on that situation, with Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Cardiff the five clubs to be approved by the government for a trial that begins in January, with several clubs installing rail seating in anticipation of approval. 

You can follow live updates from tonight’s AGM from 7.30pm at pinkun.com. 

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