Tribunal fixed for next week

Paddy DavittNorwich City officials have confirmed that the club faces a Football League disciplinary hearing next week over Paul Lambert's acrimonious switch from League One rivals Colchester.Paddy Davitt

Norwich City officials have confirmed that the club faces a Football League disciplinary hearing next week over Paul Lambert's acrimonious switch from League One rivals Colchester.

A Canaries' delegation will attend a two-day hearing in London which starts on Monday to decide whether Norwich breached league rules following Lambert's early season switch along with two members of his backroom staff.

Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling maintained from the outset United would push for a possible points deduction after City's original compensation package was dismissed as 'derisory'.

Cowling has reportedly instructed a top level barrister to represent Colchester at the disciplinary commission but there is no legal precedent for the body to dock a club points.

City's East Anglian rivals are currently six points adrift of the final play-off spot with three games remaining and with Norwich's promotion secured last weekend it would appear increasingly likely Colchester will instead seek substantial compensation for the loss of Lambert, left.

Norwich majority shareholder Delia Smith and senior club officials met Cowling at Colchester's Weston Homes Community stadium in February in a failed attempt to broker a settlement.

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The League One champions-elect must now prepare to defend charges they contravened Football League rule 20 relating to the movement of personnel between clubs.

A club spokesman said: 'City can confirm the Football League disciplinary commission hearing regarding potential compensation to be paid to Colchester United will take place on Monday in London. The club will not be commenting further until after the hearing, when a statement from the board will be issued.'

Football League officials declined to comment on the pending case, which is expected to be heard by an independent panel.

The league's disciplinary body has a sliding scale of powers - which does include 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.

When questioned on the issue at the club's annual meeting in February Canaries' chairman Alan Bowkett told shareholders City had made an 'over generous' offer and reiterated their approach for Lambert was lawful.

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

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

'Paul was understandably frustrated by the failure of the clubs to reach an agreement and he informed me that he was finding it difficult to focus on his role at Colchester United,' said Cowling, after Lambert's switch.

'For that reason I agreed that Norwich could interview Paul but could not offer him employment or in any other way directly or indirectly induce him to breach his contract until they had agreed compensation with us. I met again with Paul after that conversation had taken place and he handed me his resignation.'

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