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Ed Balls denies Norwich City have lined up Alan Pardew

PUBLISHED: 13:56 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:06 12 March 2017

Norwich City chairman Ed Balls will have to get his thinking cap on from here. Picture: Matthew Usher/Focus Images

Norwich City chairman Ed Balls will have to get his thinking cap on from here. Picture: Matthew Usher/Focus Images

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Canaries' chairman Ed Balls labelled speculation City have lined up Alan Pardew to replace Alex Neil as 'garbage'.

Balls, speaking prior to Saturday’s Championship home game against Blackburn, revealed the process of finding Neil’s long term successor is only starting. Pardew has been heavily linked with the vacancy since Neil’s sacking but Alan Irvine will stay in temporary charge for at least the next two league games.

Balls also made it clear next week’s scheduled announcement will focus on the off-the-field corporate structure to equip the Canaries for the future.

“The only thing I know about that is the conjecture I have read this morning. In fact there have been no approaches, discussions or hidden plan. We do not have an agenda. It is utter, total garbage,” he said. “It would be ridiculous for us as a football club not to know what is out there in terms of managerial talent, but our issue is firstly structural change to be announced next week in terms of how we manage the whole football club, getting that right, and then bringing into that structure a manager who is right. To say we have someone lined up in the next 48, 72 hours or even within the next three weeks is garbage.

“We want the best, we want a manager with a good record and ambition. I am not going to give a running commentary on all the names but everyone I have read is pure speculation. There has been no contact or conversations with any names in the papers.”

Balls also knocked down the City future of Wes Hoolahan sparked a fallout between Neil and the owners that triggered the Scot’s dismissal.

“That was news to me. It wasn’t discussed in the board meeting. It is a nonsense. There was no dispute between Alex and the board, to my knowledge,” said Balls. “Alex said on Friday players need to move on. He is right. With the contractual situation it will be the end for some players this summer. But Wes is coming towards the end of his career, maybe he’ll do a Ryan Giggs and go on further, but we all expect him to be playing here next season.

“Wes Hoolahan is under contract because we extended it for next season. That will be his testimonial season. He is, in my opinion, one of our best players this season.

“You don’t sit down in the boardroom and ask Alex’s view about a certain player of do we like the way he presses in midfield or why doesn’t he play five at the back? We ask more strategic questions like can we be confident he can lead us next season? We didn’t feel he could.”

Balls refused to be drawn on whether Neil had pocketed a £2m pay-off but reiterated there was no new bumper contract signed last summer following Premier League relegation.

“The suggestion at Christmas that last summer we introduced a two-year contract with a multi-million pound pay-off was untrue,” said Balls. “I am not going to get into the details of his contract. There was a report he had a change in his contract last season. That is normal. Alex had a two-year contract from the moment he arrived here. On that basis he had a substantial pay-off from the beginning if the contract was terminated, just as there was a substantial payment to us if he was poached.

“Last summer, under his existing contract, his money was cut when he left the Premier League. Just as the players’ money was. The suggestion he had a new contract with increased money and a longer term was not true. The suggestion we have been making our decisions based on his pay-off this season are not true. It is absurd.”

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