Why Norwich City’s financial clout is only one part of the story at the club’s annual general meeting
Norwich City’s fiscal health will be lauded at Tuesday’s annual general meeting but PADDY DAVITT outlines why the focus is firmly on the pitch.
Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett said it best of all when the Canaries unveiled another healthy set of financial figures from their most recent accounting period.
Judged in purely fiscal terms, Norwich City is in the strongest position they have been at any time in their proud history. City’s revenue in the year ending June 30 2014 was £95.5m. Profits, after tax, were £6.7m, a figure distorted somewhat by a reduction in performance-related costs due to City’s relegation from the Premier League after a three-year flirtation.
But Bowkett, chief executive David McNally and first team manager Neil Adams all know the focus at this evening’s annual meeting is firmly on the pitch, not in the boardroom or on the balance sheet.
City’s corporate excellence offered fertile conditions to try and minimise the damage from top flight relegation, but a positive start to the fightback has stalled abruptly during recent months.
Adams can expect funds to trade again in January to inject fresh momentum into a campaign rich in early promise. The City boss was rightly feted for his ability to limit the close season turbulence and mould a new-look squad with a refreshing outlook to winning games and entertainment. Now many question whether he is the right man for the job on the back of one league victory in the last nine.
That is the vicious nature of top level management; where short-termism is the prevalent culture and Adams’ relative inexperience or the board’s wisdom in appointing him to the top job is routinely questioned.
Neither were an issue when City sat top of the Championship prior to the first international break of the season, but what has gone before will not insulate Adams or the Canaries’ top brass from criticism.
Norwich’s productivity where it really matters has dropped alarmingly, which is why a set of accounts that encompass increased revenues and profit formally presented to shareholders this evening only tells part of the story.
Supporters trooping away from Carrow Road after Saturday’s 3-3 Championship draw against lowly Brighton crave good news on the pitch; the feelgood factor from a Gary Hooper match-winner or a John Ruddy shut-out will sustain them far more than headline numbers on a balance sheet confirming the long-stated goal of clearing the club of external debt has been successfully achieved.
Norwich’s ascent through the leagues brought financial rewards which McNally and his executive team have harnessed to the Canaries’ benefit, but there is a reason why City’s summer transfer activity was geared to plotting an instant return. The path to sustainability and self-sufficiency is simply not possible in the Football League, with its drastically reduced revenue and broadcast streams.
“Due to our strong balance sheet we are able to totally focus on planning our return to the Premier League,” said Bowkett, speaking to the club’s official site following the the latest set of accounts. “We believe we have the human and financial resources to achieve this.”
City now possess an enviable financial infrastructure in their bid to sustain a concerted promotion push, certainly compared to their Championship rivals, but they are failing where it matters at present.
Adams and Norwich’s board have set the bar high. Promotion is the premium standard, and that is the true measure supporters will judge them over these coming months.