‘We will do our very best for you’ - Delia Smith makes pledge to Norwich City fans despite ‘huge financial challenge’

PUBLISHED: 20:59 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:42 23 November 2018

The Norwich City Football Club AGM. Delia Smith. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norwich City Football Club AGM. Delia Smith. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Norwich City Football Club is facing a “huge financial challenge”, chairman Ed Balls has warned, but he insists the approach to not “gamble a quick buck” is the right one.

With the Canaries top of the league, there was an atmosphere of optimism at the annual general meeting at Carrow Road - but also a reality check for shareholders about the impact of the end of Premier League parachute payments on the club’s finances.

And sporting director Stuart Webber warned supporters there was unlikely to be big money available to strengthen the squad in January, saying he is happy with the balance in the squad as it stands.

The directors said their policy of selling players for big transfer fees, smart recruitment and bringing young players through the club’s Academy, was delivering results.

With the recent shake-up to the board following the departure of managing director Steve Stone, joint majority shareholder Delia Smith said: “I really do feel now, more than I have ever felt, that we have a real family here” and she pledged: “We will do our very best for you.”

The Norwich City Football Club AGM. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich City Football Club AGM. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The state of the club’s finances was laid bare, with a forecast £21.3m loss in 2018/19 and, with the end of parachute payments, a drop of £34.8m in income, down to £28.9m.

The £16.1m cash surplus position at the end of 2017/18 is also forecast to drop to £5m in the red, but shareholders were told that was “well within the working capital facility of the club’s bank”.

But Ben Kensell, chief operating officer, said commercial ventures, such as Carrow Road hosting concerts by the likes of Take That, were increasingly important.

And fans who bought into the £5m Canary Bond, to develop a category 1 Academy were praised for investing in the club’s future.

The Norwich City Football Club AGM. Stuart Webber. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich City Football Club AGM. Stuart Webber. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Kensell said: “We believe we have taken the right financial steps, selling and recruiting well at good values.

“The Academy is a key part of our strategy and we have made real strides with the bond, and Academy products playing in the first team.”

And chairman Mr Balls said: “We are trying to do something very unusual at this football club - to show that good, solid, community values, taking a long term view and not trying to gamble a quick buck, is the right way to run a football club.”

MORE: As it happened: Norwich’s City’s AGM

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