Norwich City and Colchester United in talks

Norwich City officials have met Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling in a last ditch bid to avoid a Football League tribunal hearing over Paul Lambert's acrimonious early season switch.

Norwich City officials have met Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling in a last ditch bid to avoid a Football League tribunal hearing over Paul Lambert's acrimonious early season switch.

The EDP understands majority shareholder Delia Smith was among the Canaries' delegation that met Cowling prior to City's midweek League One game against Southend.

Cowling hosted the Norwich party at United's Weston Homes Community stadium in an attempt to finally agree a compensation package over Lambert's East Anglian move.

Both clubs refused to comment on the outcome of the latest meeting with City reiterating the matter is in the hands of their legal representatives.


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Cowling has always maintained Colchester would push for a possible points deduction after claiming Norwich breached Football League rule 20 relating to the movement of personnel between clubs.

City's original compensation package was dismissed as 'derisory' but United appear ready to soften their hardline stance ahead of a scheduled hearing later this month.

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Canaries' chairman Alan Bowkett told shareholders at the club's recent AGM Norwich had made an 'over generous' offer and insisted the League One table toppers had made a lawful approach. Cowling responded angrily to suggestions Colchester had made unrealistic compensation demands.

'It surprises me that they are still saying they made a lawful approach because in the latest correspondence between our solicitors they have admitted a breach of rule 20,' said Cowling, earlier this month. 'I don't want to comment on the compensation figures being discussed, but needless to say I disagree that they have been over generous. We'll just have to wait and see what the tribunal comes up with. A set of dates are close to being agreed and we should be able to sit down at some time in March.'

Colchester could now be ready to accept a settlement figure ahead of what would be a test case for the footballing authorities.

The Football League's disciplinary body has a sliding scale of powers - including the potential to dock points or even expel a club - but rule 72 clearly states they must deal with cases in ways that are proportionate to the issue.

Cowling turned down Norwich's initial request to appoint Lambert back in August following Bryan Gunn's departure after failing to agree a satisfactory compensation figure with City chief executive David McNally.

The Colchester chairman, however, allowed Lambert to speak to Norwich officials but stipulated compensation would have to be agreed between the two parties.

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