Michael Bailey: The media, the vision and the deterioration that saw Jez Moxey's brief reign as Norwich City chief executive unceremoniously severed - leaving the real answers still to come
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"I want to be here for a significant time. Significant enough for it to be potentially my last club role in English football. I believe in staying in post for good periods of time and if I do that, then that will be a signal we've made good progress here at Norwich as well."
“I want to be here for a significant time. Significant enough for it to be potentially my last club role in English football. I believe in staying in post for good periods of time and if I do that, then that will be a signal we’ve made good progress here at Norwich as well.”
Even after 13 months that have pushed Norwich City from pillar to post, last week’s departure of Jex Moxey was a defining moment.
That quote came from the man himself, not on his appointment to the job back in August after a reasonably long search by headhunters promising the perfect fit to step into David McNally’s sizeable shoes – but a little-covered interview with football industry magazine FC Business, published last month .
It’s worth noting the footer on one of the pages says November – suggesting the actual interview may have taken place months beforehand.
However it manifested, the interview only emphasises how quickly things deteriorated from Moxey’s apparent excitement, to officially resigning – with a significant push through the door.
“There’s a charm to the place that you only really discover once you’re here,” continued Moxey. “The relationship I have with the owners, how we share the same vision about what this club is and should be, means I’m in the right place to make the most of my experience. I feel very positive about that.
“The first thing you need to accept when coming into a club like this is that you can’t change everything and you need to implement change at a pace that’s culturally sensible. I’ve seen lots of clubs try and make dramatic changes at equally dramatic pace. I’ve learnt there’s a high chance of things not working if you adopt that approach. Whilst I am prepared to take calculated risks – we must win football matches – I’m not interested in doing business in an irresponsible manner. We are custodians of great sporting institutions that should never be put in jeopardy.
“I want our great staff to develop knowledge and a strong modern strategy that considers the short and long-term objectives. I want to build our strengths and develop them for the benefit of the club and the supporters for years to come.”
Those last few comments may raise a few eyebrows with people inside Carrow Road as well as outside, given Moxey’s brief tenure brought internal criticisms similar to those externally voiced.
As for the media, he was a little more honest and arguably more prophetic – in the words of the unbylined piece, Moxey “appreciates facts about the football industry” and “isn’t swayed by populist agendas”.
“It’s very much hand in glove with the pressure of delivering success because of the role of the media,” added Moxey. “Supporters have a lot of access to people who run clubs, far more than those that run organisations of similar social importance, so by definition we’ve become more high profile.
“I say the media attention is an occupational hazard of the job. I find it somewhat uncomfortable and whilst you have to talk to the press and media, I think it’s reached a level that doesn’t have much to do with what it should all be about. I think it should be more about players, not CEOs.”
In terms of how I found dealing with Moxey – again, all too briefly – that last sentiment probably says all you need to know.
Following the Canaries’ AGM, I remember distinctly my first question: How he felt things had gone, given he’d obviously done plenty of them in the past during 16 years at Wolves and other clubs? His answer with a beaming smile: “Well the previous ones I’ve been at, there’s been one man who’s owned 100pc – so they’ve been quite placid in comparison!”
I appreciate this is looking backwards and there’s no denying an improved mood between fans and even around some parts of the club has existed since last Friday – for numerous reasons.
Where City opt to go from here has everyone waiting, including acting CEO Steve Stone. Any decisive action deserves respect – but it doesn’t answer plenty of questions previously asked of the board. There was no Moxey involvement in Delia and Michael’s interview to The Times.
What happens next will arguably say far more than what was announced within days of the January transfer window closing.
Meanwhile, the piece in FC Business signed off saying the impact Moxey wants to make is “exciting for fans and perhaps more interestingly, those of us that see a different way of competing and a different conclusion as to what success actually looks like.”
That would be one way of putting it.