Facing the �23m debt questions
Paddy DavittNorwich City's hierarchy will tonight be held to account over the club's record financial losses.Chief executive David McNally and the rest of the Canaries' board can expect tough questioning at their annual meeting over recently-published accounts which revealed City were �23m in debt.Paddy Davitt
Norwich City's hierarchy will tonight be held to account over the club's record financial losses.
Chief executive David McNally and the rest of the Canaries' board can expect tough questioning at their annual meeting over recently-published accounts which revealed City were �23m in debt.
Chairman Alan Bowkett refused to rule out selling Carrow Road as a potential option to address the spiralling debt figures in the wake of disclosing a record �5m annual loss for 2008/09.
John Tilson, chairman of Norwich City Independent Supporters Association (NCISA), admitted Norwich's fans are braced for some tough talking regarding the club's worsening financial position.
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'I've got a feeling we will be told a few home truths in regard to the finances which might be quite unpalatable,' he said. 'But that is what an AGM should be about - not the merits of who is or isn't in the team, tactics and so on.
'I think the emphasis will swing around towards the financial aspect because in previous years the spotlight has always fallen on the managers and the inadequacies of the teams. The board have more often than not had to sit there and not answer a great deal while the questions were fired at the manager. Obviously this year with the very precarious financial position allied to the success Paul Lambert has achieved then it's going to be somewhat different.'
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Tilson, however, believes chief executive McNally is the right man to try and improve City's parlous financial state.
'I think Mr McNally, unlike the previous post holder, has locked his door and just got on with the job in hand and you can't fault him for that,' said Tilson. 'He has a very difficult job to do but he seems capable of knuckling down and getting on with it. He has had to make some awful decisions in terms of staffing levels, financial implications, the debt levels and so on. At this moment in time I don't believe anyone can criticise either him or the chairman for the way they have gone about their business.
'That said, we want them to tell us how we can get out of this situation. I'm sure there will be some straight talking from the floor but equally from those gentlemen in reply.' Lambert can also expect a seal of approval for his League One transformation in stark contrast to Glenn Roeder's rocky ride at last year's annual meeting when the former City chief clashed with supporters. 'He will get a tremendous reception and I can't see too many questions being asked of him because if anyone stands up and criticises what that man has done so far I think they will quickly be put in their place,' said Tilson. 'He has done an unbelievable job with the financial constraints he has had to work under. The figures they released recently are not great and it's not much of a consolation to realise you are in the same boat as virtually every other football club in the land. It's a precarious position but let's hope we are not as far down the line as some other clubs who have well-publicised problems. Really with what is happening on the pitch it's the only grey cloud hanging around - albeit a big cloud.'
City recently announced plans for a 6pc increase on average season ticket prices next season - a move Tilson believes will get full backing from the rank-and-file.
'Given the current situation I think most supporters would accept paying �1 or so more per game is a small price to pay for success,' he said. 'If you take your family to the cinema or even go and watch a non league game then in comparison it's a small increase.'
Meanwhile City confirmed they had launched High Court legal proceedings for libel against the News of the World over their recent article claiming the Canaries were on the brink of administration.
City officials had demanded a printed apology and damages for the article published on January 24 which claimed City would enter administration the following week.
A statement on the club's official website said: 'Norwich City Football Club PLC has issued proceedings in the High Court against the publishers of the News of the World, following the article printed in the NOTW on January 24, 2010.
'The NOTW failed to comply with the terms of the letter sent by our solicitors of the same date, and accordingly Leathes Prior have issued on our behalf legal proceedings for libel.'