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‘If there are people who want to invest in Norwich City, our door is open’ – Ed puts balls in investors’ court

PUBLISHED: 05:57 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:53 30 November 2017

From left, Norwich City board members Stephan Phillips, Michael Wynn Jones and Delia Smith at Carrow Road for the club's 2017 annual general meeting. 
Picture: Nick Butcher

From left, Norwich City board members Stephan Phillips, Michael Wynn Jones and Delia Smith at Carrow Road for the club's 2017 annual general meeting. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2017

Chairman Ed Balls admitted he was surprised Norwich City’s ownership and potential fresh investment did not come up at this year’s annual general meeting – but that doesn’t mean the Canaries board isn’t open to the idea of a helping hand.

Chairman Ed Balls admitted he was surprised Norwich City’s ownership and potential fresh investment did not come up at this year’s annual general meeting – but that doesn’t mean the Canaries board isn’t open to the idea of a helping hand.

City’s financial realities hit home during some searingly honest discussion at Carrow Road on Wednesday night, with the summer set to offer a significant challenge for the entire board should the club not achieve promotion back to the Premier League.

And while talk of the openly self-funded club’s attitude to fresh investment – whether a reality or not – continues to be on the minds of supporters, the shareholders opted to leave the subject off the table from joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, as well as their boardroom colleagues.

“I was surprised but I think that’s partly because we’ve been so open with the fans and shareholders about the financial position,” said Balls.

“Nothing has changed. We have owners who believe in the club as a community football club. They’ve been here a long time because they love Norwich City and have done some great things for the club.

MORE: Watch this week’s edition of our Norwich City programme, The PinkUn Show

“We aren’t in any way close-minded at all about new investment. If somebody came along who believed in this club and its values, and then wanted to invest in this football club then we would engage with them without any hesitation.

“But we would also want to know that it was going to work for the long-term benefits for Norwich City Football Club.

Norwich City supporters contemplate the points made at Norwich City's 2017 annual general meeting at Carrow Road. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Norwich City supporters contemplate the points made at Norwich City's 2017 annual general meeting at Carrow Road. Picture: Nick Butcher

“So while we’ve been so focused for the last six months on getting the culture right and these personnel changes that we’ve not been out there looking, I think in the past when Alan Bowkett went out looking in 2011 he didn’t find any people who wanted to invest.

“So we haven’t been looking but we are absolutely open to new investment. If people want to come forward, if there are people who believe in this football club and want to invest in Norwich City, our door is open.”

Current figures taken from across the division suggest the average price to take control of a Championship club stands at around £50m – although providing the money to buy enough shares would be one thing; finding additional capital to invest in the squad and infrastructure would have to be added to the bill.

In 2010 then chief executive David McNally and chairman Bowkett launched an energetic global search to find fresh investment for the club, led and pursued by professional advisers Deloitte.

Ed Balls prepares to address the supporters and shareholders at the 2017 Norwich City annual general meeting at Carrow Road. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Ed Balls prepares to address the supporters and shareholders at the 2017 Norwich City annual general meeting at Carrow Road. Picture: Nick Butcher

However 12 months later and despite approaching 52 potential investors around the world, Norwich City confirmed their global investment search drew a blank and doubts have prevailed ever since over how much the current City board would welcome new involvement, as much as investment.

The club at the time was more than £20m in debt, which has now been cleared – although failure to earn promotion back to the top flight this summer is set to put some serious strain on City’s external debt-free status during the close season.

For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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