Thursday, November 22, 2012
Norwich City’s annual general meeting passed with plenty of applause and little controversy at Carrow Road on Thursday night.
The club’s impressive health off and on the pitch was delivered to a packed and receptive Norfolk Lounge audience, as joint majority shareholder Michael Wynn Jones and deputy chairman Michael Foulger were comfortably re-elected to the board during the two and a half hour meeting – with chief executive David McNally joining manager Chris Hughton and fellow directors Delia Smith, Stephan Phillips and director of finance Sam Gordon at the top table.
And it was Bowkett and McNally who led the slideshows as the Premier League effect was spelt out.
The annual accounts to May 31 made plenty of pleasant reading – but with wages and player purchases set to rise by £7m this season and the top-flight’s new television deal upping the stakes by more than £20m for every Premier League club from August, the need to stay at English football’s top table was reiterated once again.
Funds will be available for Hughton to spend when the transfer window reopens in the new year, with some of the money left over from August’s pot – a “reasonable amount” according to McNally.
“We are not going to be silly and I think by the nature of looking at the more continental markets, that will probably be where we focus our attention and if we could get an Alex Tettey equivalent that puts the ball in the net that would be great,” said Bowkett.
“I think some (clubs) will (be sillier than others) but we have a manager who has very firm ideas of what he wants to do, his due diligence is immense. He works so hard – if he’s not watching football on TV he’s out at some obscure Belgian football ground looking at a player I’ve never heard of.”
McNally vowed the Canaries are now “a buying club and not a selling club” having not let a player depart against their wishes in at least three years – a far cry from City’s last prolonged spell in the top flight.
The City chief revealed the club fielded a number of enquiries for their players during the summer from a number of Premier League clubs, with one club apparently wanting to sign four members of Norwich’s squad.
Having revealed at the recent fans’ forum earlier in the season former manager Paul Lambert was suing Norwich for constructive dismissal, Bowkett was at his diplomatic best this time around – speaking well of the Scot and confirming a resolution in “early spring” for the Premier League arbitration panel attempting to settle the legal and compensation claims from both parties.
Bowkett and McNally acknowledged the much criticised ticket prices for the League Cup tie with Tottenham last month were too high, but revealed they expect December’s home quarter-final tie with Aston Villa to be a sell-out.
The duo admitted season ticket prices are likely to rise again next season, while adding they were working on ways to pay fans back for their loyalty.
The club, as has been reported, expects to be free of any external debt by the end of next season – and joint majority shareholder Smith addressed one fan’s concerns at rising ticket prices with her usual passion.
“If you want to be in the Premier League, you have got to pay,” said Smith.
“What would you rather have – Premier League football or cheaper tickets? We’ve had all these years of scrimping and saving and I still think what we’ve done is the right thing.”
And to continue the theme from the start of the night – and not for the first time – the majority of the room applauded.