Delia rules out foreign takeover
CHRIS LAKEY Delia Smith insists Norwich City are not about to join the growing list of clubs reliant on foreign investment.The Canaries majority shareholder - who resisted the overtures made by controversial Italian businessman Giovanni di Stefano six years ago, says foreign money is still not welcome at Carrow Road.
Delia Smith insists Norwich City are not about to join the growing list of clubs reliant on foreign investment.
The Canaries majority shareholder - who resisted the overtures made by controversial Italian businessman Giovanni di Stefano six years ago, says foreign money is still not welcome at Carrow Road.
A whole host of Premiership clubs - including champions Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa and West Ham - are in foreign hands, although Championship clubs could well be in the sights of the world's richest men.
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Leicester City are owned by Serbian Milan Mandaric, while Southampton have reportedly been targeted by Paul Allen, co-founder of global software giant Microsoft and the owner of the Seattle Seahawks American football team.
But Delia says she would risk the anger of City supporters before selling out to someone “without passion in Norwich City”.
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Delia was speaking on the day that business couple Andrew and Sharon turner joined the Carrow Road board, relieving the financial tension with a £2m interest free loan.
For a club which has debts of £20m it may seem a small amount, but City's leading lady insists it's about more than money.
“Let's not allow the money to cloud what is more important,” she said. “They are very, very passionate, number one, and number two, they are very, very ambitious. Their business is flying and they want Norwich City to fly and I think that is more important in the end than this investment, although it is welcome and wonderful.
“It is wonderful to increase that amount of ambition and passion that we think we have all got here.
“I think it is one of the greatest joys of all, because we would never want to sell any of our shares to a foreign investor - ever.
“But we probably would get hung, drawn and quartered by the supporters if somebody came along with that big money and wanted
To buy Norwich and we said no, they'd hate us, wouldn't they?
“We'd upset them.
“I just feel all the investors who are coming in now - they see Man United on the telly and Chelsea on the telly and see these big brands. They can go and take a club and make it into a brand, but there is only room for two or three, there isn't room for 10 brands around the world and so they are not all going to make it.
“We truly need some foreign investor to go belly up and everybody will go back to normal.”
Husband Michael Wynn Jones is joint majority shareholder - and shares his wife's opinion.
“What possible interest have they got in Norwich City Football Club?” he asked.
The fact that the Turners are lifelong City fans holds plenty of sway with Norwich City's first couple.
“In Andrew and Sharon we have two of Norfolk's most dynamic and forward-thinking business people who are also fans and who are very ambitious for the football club and passionately want it to develop and succeed,” said Delia.
“After the AGM many people have asked if we were actively seeking positive new investment into the club and today provides an answer to that question.
“The board now has the benefit of two fresh voices with bags of enthusiasm, business experience and loads of ideas and passion to help us move forward and I think it's a very exciting time for all of us who care about this great club.”