'We've overcome the toughest time' – Stone has high hopes for a brighter season ahead
PUBLISHED: 17:20 02 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:30 03 August 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
The worst is over according to Steve Stone – and now Norwich City can set about confounding expectations once again in the Championship.
The summer had the potential to cause all sorts of problems for the Canaries following the end of their Premier League parachute payments and an ownership model based primarily on the commitment of the club’s fans.
But with some big sales and what will be known as creative recruitment, City’s managing director hopes for something to excite as the new Championship season arrives this weekend.
“The club’s financial footing is in a much stronger place than when we kicked the last ball of last season,” acknowledged Stone.
“I think we’ve overcome the toughest time, which is the movement from parachute payments to non-parachute payments.
“We still have a small number of players on wages – albeit they’ve come down from the Premier League – that are still high in comparison to our average wage bill. But that is being addressed every transfer window, and so it becomes easier for us to run on a smoother footing than it was last season.
“I don’t think it was a surprise to anybody that we sold James Maddison, we got a very good offer in for Josh Murphy and a couple of other have moved on as well.
“We’ve invested as much of that money as we possibly can do in terms of bringing new players in, very much focusing on the areas that needed strengthening within the squad – which hopefully our fans can see that we’ve done.
“Time will obviously tell how well they play together but I think we’ve given ourselves the best chance by doing the business early in the window. I think it’s important those players have been able to have a pre-season together.
“Certainly I feel we are in as strong a position as we can be and we’ve got a competitive squad to challenge for the new season in the Championship.”
Speaking as City unveiled their new partnership with Norfolk brewery Woodforde’s – including prominent sponsorship of the Barclay Stand – Stone admitted an improvement on last season is at the top of his wish list.
“If you don’t feel optimistic at the start of a season, you probably shouldn’t be in football,” he added.
“It’s optimism but with some basis behind it, while tempered by the fact it’s such a competitive division – there are probably 15 teams that realistically think they have a chance of promotion, whether it be through the play-offs or automatically.
“Last season was a disappointing finish. If you’d asked anyone at the club whether you would want to finish 14th, people wouldn’t say yes to that.
“So I certainly feel optimistic that we can improve on that and push for near the top of the table.”
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…