No home pre-season friendlies for Norwich City in close season, with pitch to be dug up
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Norwich City will play no home pre-season friendlies this summer because the Carrow Road pitch is to be relaid, the club’s sporting director has revealed.
And Stuart Webber said that is one of the reasons why there will be no testimonial over the close season for Wes Hoolahan.
But the club has said it will ensure the midfielder gets one in the future, whether or not he is still in yellow and green next season.
The club said in February that it was in talks with Hoolahan about a testimonial, but Mr Webber, in a meeting with supporters group The Canaries Trust, revealed it would not happen this season - which sparked comments on social media.
Hoolahan, who is out of contract at the end of this season, swapped Blackpool for Carrow Road in June 2008 and is the club’s longest-serving player.
Speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk, ahead of today’s game against Queens Park Rangers, Mr Webber explained why there would be no testimonial game this summer.
And he revealed no pre-season friendlies will be played at Carrow Road this season - because the pitch is to be dug up.
He said talks with Hoolahan and fellow midfielder Alex Tettey over their Canaries futures were continuing and repeated that, whether the Irishmen stays or goes, the club would honour a testimonial for him.
Mr Webber said: “For a number of reasons we can’t do it this summer, unfortunately. One is, Wes was involved in World Cup qualifiers and Ireland didn’t know their fate until November, so we couldn’t do anything before then for the summer.
“Secondly, we’ve got the Legends game and listen, people can argue ‘have two games’, but then we’re asking the supporters once again to put their hands in their pockets twice for what are two fantastic causes and fantastic games.
“It would have been unfair on Wes or on that game to have them almost competing with each other because they would have had to have been within a week of each other, because while there is still play-off contention, you can’t just put a game in before the play-offs and ruin the pitch.
“The last reason is we’re digging the pitch up, which means then we can’t do next pre-season, because we’re not even having a pre-season home friendly this year because the pitch won’t be ready in time.
“They are all factors that we’ve had to look into. We’ve been in constant dialogue with Wes and we’ve said to Wes, whether he’s here next year, or two years or 10 years, the testimonial is there when its right, because I think everyone would agree, for what he’s done for the club, when he does have a testimonial, it has to be right.”
Mr Webber added that he thought Hoolahan, who was named in the starting line-up for today’s match, was “a genuine legend” and the testimonial would probably happen next season - perhaps during an international break or at the end of the season.
He added: “It’s important that when we do it, we do it properly.”
Carrow Road played host to just the single pre-season fixture at the start of this season - a 1-1 draw with Premier League Brighton, managed by former Norwich City boss Chris Hughton.