AUDIO: David McNally - Norwich City back in the Premier League for good
Norwich City are back in the promised land of the Premier League – and they are back to stay, according to chief executive David McNally.
The Canaries crowned historic back-to-back promotions at Portsmouth on Monday night, almost exactly two years to the day after being relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years.
City now have the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to prepare for next season after bagging automatic promotion – and an opening Premier League payment of �42m.
Promotion from the Championship arrived at the first attempt, six years after the Canaries' one-year Premier League stay came to an abrupt end at Fulham. The turnaround in fortunes has left a lack of superlatives for City followers since August 2009 – but every one of them revelled in a memorable night at Fratton Park.
'Moments like that you get very few times in life, in sport, in business, in the whole community – and those are fantastic moments,' said McNally on the Portsmouth pitch, shortly after celebrating Norwich's top flight return with 3,000 visiting fans.
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'These supporters have been through so much and they deserve every bit of this pleasure and enjoyment they are getting now.
'We are there now and we are going to stay in the Premier League too, so they are going to have to get used to Premier League grounds because we have got there now and we are going to stay there.'
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Blackpool's promotion from the Championship last season was held up as an example for all teams to follow this term.
So what of City's achievement under manager Paul Lambert's guidance, to rise from the horror of an opening 7-1 home League One defeat by Colchester – before Lambert's arrival – to earning the club's sixth spell with English football's elite?
McNally said: 'It's down to a number of things. Firstly Paul Lambert's brilliance as a manager cannot be overstated. His winning mentality he has brought to the football club is sensational.
'He's a real winner in everything he does, and that has helped produce back-to-back promotions, which as we all know is a real rarity in football.
'To have got that, Delia, Michael Wynn Jones and Michael Foulger have invested significant amounts of money and let's not forget that.
'I think up until the end of this season, that's �16m nett out in the last two years. So it's been with some money, despite the financial crisis that we are working our way through.
'They should be applauded. There should be statues to Delia and Michael at Carrow Road, that's for sure.
'And then the incredible supporters, because that makes such a difference to the team. When you are away at Hartlepool and you haven't had an away win for however long, and you need a victory – and that sets us on the way.
'We have taken 2,000 or 3,000 to most away grounds over the last two years – absolutely sensational. People might say 3,000 for a promotion winning party. Well, we have had 3,000 at Swindon and others.
'So it's down to that really – a winning manager, brilliant owners and the best supporters in the land.'
McNally, who arrived following City's Championship relegation in the summer of 2009, helped devise a seven year plan for Norwich to become an established Premier League club – a plan in which City are now three years ahead.
'We were close to administration in the autumn of 2009, we've never had any money – we are not going to know what to do with it,' joked McNally. 'But it's a quality problem to have and I jest, because we know how we need to invest in order to ensure that we stay in the Premier League.
'It's the best league in the world, Norwich City and its supporters deserve to be in the best league in the world, and we will do absolutely everything – every waking breath will now be focused on staying in the Premier League.
'Clearly the planning has started prior to this but rather than the plan A, plan B plan C and plan D, we have got a plan A.
'So we will have a look at what we need to do, sit down with Paul and develop another plan for a new season.
'But the players have been magnificent, haven't they? Fantastic. How could you name a player of the year from that lot? They were just sensational.
'I'm not sure how much Pompey's holding midfielder is on, but I'm sure ours in on a fraction – and you wouldn't swap them, would you?
'You go through the team player for player – not just Portsmouth but most of the teams we have played over the season – our players have been sensation and they are a credit to the football club, but more importantly a real credit to themselves.'
McNally could barely contain his joy at celebrating with the Norwich fans after the final whistle, and he admitted the night was emotional.
'A little bit,' said the City chief, 'But I know that I've got �42m coming in soon – so we've got to keep a clear head.
'So emotional? Yes. This is really about giving something back. This is about the fans – for Canary fans who are no longer with us, and Canary fans who are here.'