Norwich City chairman - We'll back push for play-offs

Paddy DavittNorwich City chairman Alan Bowkett has pledged the Canaries' hierarchy will back Paul Lambert's bid to launch a Championship play-off push. Bowkett insists Lambert will get the financial muscle he needs despite his fellow Football League chairmen yesterday agreeing to accept a Premiership-imposed proposal for increased parachute payments.Paddy Davitt

Norwich City chairman Alan Bowkett has pledged the Canaries' hierarchy will back Paul Lambert's bid to launch a Championship play-off push.

Bowkett insists Lambert will get the financial muscle he needs despite his fellow Football League chairmen yesterday agreeing to accept a Premiership-imposed proposal for increased parachute payments.

Recently relegated top flight clubs will now get �48m over a four year period - up from the current �16m over two seasons - from the start of next season as part of a revised package of solidarity payments from the Premier League to the Football League.

'Our club still has financial issues but I am pleased to report we are in better shape than this time last year,' said Bowkett. 'We will enter the Championship with a budget that will allow us to compete for a top six position, not to consolidate, and above all we will begin the season with a winning mentality.


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'Particularly pleasing for us all this year has been the advancement of so many academy players into the first team squad. Norwich City firmly believes in nurturing young talent and I am sure we have seen promising players this season who will reach the heights of the game, preferably with us.'

Newcastle and West Brom both secured Championship promotion this season at the first attempt and Bowkett admitted ahead of yesterday's landmark agreement the growing financial imbalance was a major cause for concern.

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'Off the field football finance has been the talking point of the industry as well as at Norwich City,' he said, on the club's official site. 'Clearly, the current benefactor model in the Football League versus the stupendous sums involved in the Premier League cannot continue. The Premier League has offered the Football League a 'gift' of higher solidarity payments.

'The price is we acquiesce in their demands for larger and longer parachute payments and an easier route for the big boys to entice youth players away from Football League clubs. If we do not agree they will remove any offer of further assistance.'

A majority of clubs in Leagues One and Two had initially rejected the proposals with many fearing increased revenues would only widen the existing gap to the Championship. Norwich chief executive David McNally estimated recently City's elevation back to the Championship could generate an extra �4m in annual turnover.

A Football League spokesman said: 'Following a frank but constructive meeting at Walsall's Banks' stadium, Football League clubs have voted to accept the Premier League's revised solidarity and parachute payments proposals. Whilst many clubs expressed concerns about the proposals, their acceptance was considered the only viable way forward. The Football League will now work in good faith, with the Premier League, to ensure that the resulting contract and regulatory changes are good for both competitions and football as a whole.'

Half of the clubs in the lowest two tiers had to vote for the proposal for it to be adopted or risk the Premier League stopping solidarity payments to all 72 clubs.

'It's a genuine attempt to help the Football League after our international TV rights turned out to be better than we expected,' said Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League. 'By doing it this way, everyone is better off, including the non-parachute clubs who would then share the Football League's TV money between them.'

Norwich's League One promotion rivals Leeds believe they can also challenge at the top end of the Championship after finishing a distant nine points behind the Canaries. Leeds' chief Simon Grayson sees no reason why his club can not emulate Leicester City and launch a concerted push for back-to-back promotions after languishing in English football's third tier for the past three seasons.

'I think getting out of League One for Leeds United was harder than getting out of the Championship will be,' said Grayson. 'We're a big scalp in this division. I know the Championship is a difficult league and there are some really big teams in there, but it doesn't frighten me. I won't say 'We will be promoted next year', but I am an ambitious manager and I want to get this club in the Premier League. Not being the biggest scalp will help us. It's a challenge we'll embrace.

'Leicester City is a decent role model to follow. I firmly believe Leeds is a bigger club but I don't think they're a bad example. I am not setting any targets. But every time I kick off a season with a club, I want to get promoted, regardless of what division I'm in. That will be no different next season.'

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