Our aim is to restore smiles

It is an honour to be invited to write my column for the EDP again this season. It is extremely helpful to be able to use this column to set the record straight and correct the many misleading rumours that are so much a part of football.

It is an honour to be invited to write my column for the EDP again this season. It is extremely helpful to be able to use this column to set the record straight and correct the many misleading rumours that are so much a part of football.

We all know and understand the extreme passion and emotions that football evokes in supporters. And that in turn fuels intense demand for information about one's club - who will be leaving, what players will be arriving, who we are looking at.

And that's why, after a summer of so much speculation, misinformation and so many transfers in and out, I would like to begin by talking about transparency.

This summer it seems, more and more transfer fees across the game have been described as 'undisclosed'. At Norwich City, we never ask the clubs that we deal with not to disclose transfer fees. But other clubs, it seems, have their own reasons for opting for less than total transparency and frequently insist on a confidentiality clause being inserted into transfer agreements. Because Football League rules actually prohibit clubs from publishing transfer fees, there is little we can do when other clubs take this stance.

But it's not just transfer fees that provoke speculation. We have a seen a huge amount of debate about the buy-out clauses that took Robert Earnshaw to Derby and Dickson Etuhu to Sunderland. In both instances, the club was not looking to sell - but the players and their agents activated the clauses to make the moves happen.

Some people seem to think that the club could have refused these clauses - but that is just not the case. Buy-out clauses are an increasingly common part of football life. Indeed, we also benefit from these clauses when trying to bring players to Carrow Road. But in the cases of both Earnie and Dickson, we had a stark choice: either sign the players with the buyout clauses in their contracts, or don't sign the players. I am confident that we made the right choice.

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Indeed, it is interesting to note that only this week the BBC were reporting that Southampton are set to report Derby to the Football Association claiming "the Rams have broken League rules over an approach for striker Kenwyne Jones". I make no comment on how it came to be that Derby bid the exact amount necessary to activate Earnie's buy-out clause…

This summer has been by far the busiest in my ten years at Carrow Road - even at the start of our Premier League season we didn't do as many deals as we have been able to successfully complete this pre-season. And, unsurprisingly, every deal was different. With Luke Varney for example, it was very clear at the point of our initial enquiry that Luke had his eyes very firmly set on joining one of the three newly-relegated clubs. And while he was no doubt flattered by our interest, I don't think he ever really contemplated going anywhere other than Charlton.

With Billy Sharp on the other hand, it was a totally different kettle of fish - Billy had the option to join Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves as well as Norwich City, and took time to visit each of the four clubs before making his decision.

Ultimately though, although the player was clearly very impressed with Peter Grant and with the whole set-up at Colney and Carrow Road, the lure of joining his home-town club proved too great and he eventually signed for Bryan Robson's Sheffield United.

It's important to note though that Jamie Cureton and David Strihavka were not, as some people have inaccurately suggested, Peter's third and fourth choice strikers. Talks involving each of the possible four targets were going on concurrently all summer until we were finally able to put pen to paper on deals for the leading scorers in the Championship and Czech premier league respectively.

Of course, the upshot of so much transfer activity this summer is a huge upswing in excitement and anticipation ahead of the kick-off at Preston this weekend.

On Monday night, at the Capital Canaries supporter forum at Swiss Cottage, and on Tuesday evening at the Countdown To Kick-Off supporters' dinner at Carrow Road, the positive mood was tangible. At both events, the board and management were asked what our hopes were for the coming season. Of course, everyone present was entirely upbeat about all the new signings and our prospects in the league. But for me, it is equally important, in total contrast to the fraught and sad scenes of the last two seasons, that everyone has a smile on their face once again - that everyone will be entirely behind the team, comes to Carrow Road enjoying their afternoon and goes home happy.

That, for me, is my greatest hope for Norwich City this season.

On The Ball, City!