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Tributes as ‘man who saved Norwich City’ Gordon Bennett dies

PUBLISHED: 06:54 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 06:54 18 September 2020

Former Norwich City chief executive Gordon Bennett, at a press conference announcing his departure from the club in 1999. Picture: Keith Whitmore

Former Norwich City chief executive Gordon Bennett, at a press conference announcing his departure from the club in 1999. Picture: Keith Whitmore

A former Norwich City chief executive with a permanent place in the club’s history after becoming known as the man that saved the Canaries, has died.

Former Norwich City chief executive Gordon Bennett. Picture.  Simon LuntFormer Norwich City chief executive Gordon Bennett. Picture. Simon Lunt

Gordon Bennett dedicated more than 10 years to Norwich City Football Club, serving first as its youth director and later as its chief executive.

Joining the club in 1988 as head of youth, Mr Bennett was a key figure at the club during its most successful time on the field - and some of its most financially tough times off of it.

He became chief executive of the club in June 1996, following the departure of chairman Robert Chase, and has been widely credited with turning around the club’s financial turmoil.

During his time at the club, he came up with the idea for the Friends of Norwich City Youth, a supporters’ group which in its 16-year lifespan pumped more than £350,000 into the club’s academy set-up.

Former Norwich City chief executive Gordon Bennett, who has died. Picture: Keith WhitmoreFormer Norwich City chief executive Gordon Bennett, who has died. Picture: Keith Whitmore

In 1998, he memorably said to this newspaper: “We have now got a sensible mortgage and a sensible overdraft, so provided we are sensible we won’t get stroppy phone calls from the bank any more.”

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He was known to some as “a lovable eccentric” who was unafraid of poking fun at himself and his instantly recognisable name.

Upon leaving the club in 1999 to take over as chief executive at Scottish club Aberdeen, he commented: “When you have a name like mine I am bound to be latched upon.”

In 2003, he became among the inaugural names to be inducted into Norwich City’s Hall of Fame - and to date is the only executive to have had this honour bestowed upon him.

Former City youth coach Keith Webb is among those to have paid tribute to Mr Bennett via social media, writing: “Just heard the sad news that former head of youth development at Norwich Gordon Bennett has passed away. “[He]Transformed the youth policy into one of the most productive in the country. Loads of players that came through at that time have him to thank for his devotion to the role.”

As well as having deep-set connections to the Canaries, Mr Bennett spent time at Plymouth Argyle and Bristol Rovers.

Paying tribute to him on Twitter, a spokesman for the Pilgrims wrote: “The club is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former head of youth development, Gordon Bennett.

“Gordon was a well respected member of the team at Argyle, and will be missed.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with Gordon’s family and friends.”


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