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Sausage rolls and survival prove key issues at Norwich City’s AGM

PUBLISHED: 23:07 24 November 2015 | UPDATED: 08:16 25 November 2015

Norwich City Football Club hold their 2015 AGM at Carrow Road.
 Pictured, from left, is financial director Steve Stone, joint majority shareholders Michael Wynn Jones and Delia Smith, deputy chairman Michael Foulger, chairman Alan Bowkett, chief executive David McNally, manager Alex Neil and director Stephan Phillips. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich City Football Club hold their 2015 AGM at Carrow Road. Pictured, from left, is financial director Steve Stone, joint majority shareholders Michael Wynn Jones and Delia Smith, deputy chairman Michael Foulger, chairman Alan Bowkett, chief executive David McNally, manager Alex Neil and director Stephan Phillips. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

ARCHANT NORFOLK

Attracting top-level players, the prospect of expanding Carrow Road and problems with half-time sausage rolls – all just part of another Norwich City annual general meeting.

Shareholders had their chance to grill the club’s board of directors at Carrow Road on Tuesday night and often found they were receiving a similar answer, whatever their issue.

Preserving top-flight status is key to all of the ambitions the club’s hierarchy and supporters have, with chairman Alan Bowkett jokingly turning to manager Alex Neil and saying with a smile: “All we need is for Alex to make us a regular Premier League club and then we’re home and dry!”

That message was no surprise, emphasised further with chief executive David McNally’s illustration of the club’s “revised vision” with a football-shaped graphic.

At the heart of that was the message “we are Premier League”.

So when the issue of expanding Carrow Road’s current 27,244 capacity was raised, the answer remained unchanged. An investment of over £25million, which would take over 10 years to pay off, is not the priority in the club’s first year back at English football’s top table – but it remains in the board’s long-term hopes.

McNally reminded supporters that another year in the top flight would be worth around £65million in broadcast revenue alone, having earlier said: “It wouldn’t need too many things to go right to double our income year on year.”

That was emphasised by revisiting the annual accounts, revealed earlier this year, which showed City’s income was forecast to grow 91.6pc, from £53.6m to £102.7m, for the 2015/16 financial year.

When it was pointed out that the Canaries currently sit 16th in the English football pyramid but only have the 30th biggest capacity, McNally took a different tact.

“Our facilities at Colney have to be improved, we have not got a choice,” he said. “It has to be best in class if we want to attract and attain some of the best players in the world.”

Neil has been telling supporters the same thing ever since the summer transfer window and agreed that the club’s training ground at Colney must improve if he is to attract fresh talent in January.

“Six years ago this club was in financial turmoil and was rescued by a lot of the people sitting here and is now looking to get back established in the Premier League – and that is a phenomenal achievement,” the Scot said. “Although the first team went up through the leagues, behind the scenes it hasn’t caught up.”

The formal business of the night was concluded smoothly, with chairman Alan Bowkett and deputy chairman Michael Foulger re-elected to the board.

The absence of fellow director Stephen Fry for a second successive year was raised, with financial director Steve Stone passing on the actor’s apologies for his absence.

The evening started on a sadder note though, as a round of applause was given in the memory of former AGM stalwart David Batley, who passed away recently.

But the AGM finished on a quirkier note, although an issue which will be important to many City fans.

The problems of long half-time queues in the Jarrold Stand and food not being ready until 2.15pm at some games, when the stadium opens at 1.30pm for a 3pm kick-off, prompted McNally to pledge action.

“The queues are too long and that is not good enough, we have got to do something about it,” he said, adding that more tills and staff are needed.

Joint majority shareholder and celebrity chef Delia Smith added: “If I could come down and give you a sausage roll myself, I would, and like David said, we will investigate it.”

It summed up a relaxed night and encapsulated perfectly that although the Canaries are in a great position, plenty of hard work is still needed if the club is to continue on an upward trajectory.

For more from the AGM, see tomorrow’s Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News.

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