Twists and u-turns in 48 hours of drama
I am writing this piece on the evening of Thursday, August 31 - the last day of the summer transfer window. By the time you read this, the window will have closed.
I am writing this piece on the evening of Thursday, August 31 - the last day of the summer transfer window. By the time you read this, the window will have closed (at midnight) and no more permanent transfers or season-long loans are allowed until the mid-season transfer window opens on 1 January 2007. Of course, the emergency loan system still remains open for Football League clubs throughout the season.
I have just arrived back in the office after a 616-mile round trip to Cardiff and have been met by a wall of speculation about who we may or may not be signing; whether Leon McKenzie will be leaving Carrow Road or not.
Supporters are, understandably, desperately keen to know what the first-team squad will look like following the window closing - and want hard and fast answers to straight questions.
But, as the sequence of events below shows, such black-and-white certainty is sometimes a rarity in football. The best of intentions rarely lead to straightforward and predictable outcomes.
In the run-up to the window closing, we have been trying to put together two deals - the sale of Leon McKenzie to Coventry and the purchase of David Cotterill from Bristol City.
The sequence of events below, tracking the twists and turns of the transfer process over the last few days, shows how convoluted the process can be. And how there can be many a slip twixt cup and lip.
- 1 Work from home, masks and NHS passes: New Covid rules explained
- 2 Norfolk man arranged sexual exploitation of teen victim
- 3 Woman to stand trial accused of causing death by careless driving
- 4 Diners showered with glass after man smashes pub window
- 5 Pub transformed into 'breathtaking' family home for sale for almost £1m
- 6 Missing Beccles woman Jaime Larter, 42, found
- 7 Norfolk Coast Path to close for eight weeks
- 8 Boris Johnson tells people to work from home as covid 'Plan B' confirmed
- 9 Delays expected with A47 to close in both directions for 15 miles
- 10 Action taken against cold callers who left homeowner 'freaked out'
The starting point of the story begins on Tuesday afternoon, when Nigel Worthington had made it clear that he did not want to sell Leon and that the club had turned down Leon's transfer request on the basis that Leon remained an important part of the Carrow Road squad.
We had at that point turned down five bids from Coventry for Leon - the last of which was communicated on Tuesday afternoon.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 29
t 8pm Following calls from Leon and his agent, the intensity of Leon's desire to get away from Norwich becomes clear. I spend much of the evening on the phone to Leon's agent, with him pleading with the club to let Leon go to Coventry
Wednesday, August 30
t 8am Nigel concludes that to force Leon to stay against his will would be counter-productive and agrees that we would reluctantly let Leon go if Coventry up their bid to an acceptable level and, ideally, if we are able to get in a replacement striker who would improve the quality of our squad. Nigel makes it clear that the player he wants to bring in is David Cotterill of Bristol City.
t 9am-4pm I have a series of discussions with Bristol City directors, David's agents, Leon's agent and Coventry about the possible deals which, eventually, lead to verbal agreement being reached on two transfers late in the afternoon. All parties are informed that, from our point of view, in an ideal world both deals would be inter-dependent. We would strongly prefer not to do one without the other
t 4-8.30pm Club secretary Kevan Platt and I start work on the huge amount of paperwork necessary to make the deals happen concurrently - there are approximately 20 different documents covering the two deals (most of which must be produced in quadruplicate) which have to be drafted, as well as documents dealing with Peterborough (who are entitled to a sell-on from Leon's transfer). We fax off the draft paperwork to all parties for their comments and agree that I will drive to Cardiff (where David Cotterill is with the Welsh squad ahead of their game in Prague tomorrow) along with David's agent, to conclude the deal in the morning before David flies out. Neal Reynolds organises a medical to be carried out in Cardiff that evening. The transfer agreement with Coventry remains unagreed
t 9pm A quick stop at home for a bite to eat, and then on the road to Croydon to catch some sleep at my parents' house before continuing on to Cardiff. The M11 is closed and I eventually get to bed in South London at 1am, after spending the journey eventually agreeing the outstanding points of the deal with Coventry
THURSDAY, AUGUST 31
t 3.30am Out of bed after two and a half hours' sleep, and then back in the car to continue the long journey to Wales
t 7.30am Arrive at Cardiff and meet with the doctor who carried out the medical the previous evening, receiving his written report. Discuss the results by phone with Nigel and club physio Neal Reynolds
t 8am Agree the paperwork with the Bristol City chairman by phone and meet with David Cotterill and his agent (former West Brom, Coventry, Aston Villa and Wolves legend) Cyrille Regis, taking them through the various documents. After David has spoken to his father and the Bristol chairman, David and his agent put pen to paper. Bristol City have yet to sign their part of the deal (keeping their options open until nearer midnight) - but the terms are fully agreed.
t 9am Faxing all the signed paperwork back to Carrow Road for Kevan Platt to prepare the registration documents that will have to be lodged with the Football League and FA
t 10am David gets on the coach to attend training with the Welsh squad, before their flight to Prague. I jump back in the car, on the long journey back to Norwich. I report back to Nigel and the City board that the deals are all but complete. From our point of view, we have made a substantial and ambitious bid (which could rise to over £2million plus a sell-on) for a talented, sought-after international striker, which has been accepted; and have agreed personal terms with the player and his representatives. The deal for Leon is worth a guaranteed £600,000, with up to a further £400,000 on games and promotion.
t 11am Showstopper. Bristol City have received an acceptable bid for David Cotterill from Premiership club Wigan Athletic and have given Wigan permission to talk to the player.
t 1.15pm We are informed that the Cotterill deal is off. Wigan have apparently agreed terms with Bristol City and the player's agent. We are told that David wants to sign for Wigan, has pulled out of the Welsh squad and is flying to Wigan to meet Paul Jewell. I inform the Norwich City board and Nigel of the disappointing news
t 2.30pm It seems that the bad news may be premature - all is not as cut and dried as it might appear. David wants to see what Wigan have to offer, but is seriously impressed by our interest and commitment to make the deal happen. But, it seems, the lure of Premiership football and Premiership wages, unsurprisingly, merits investigation.
t 4-6pm Arrive back in Norwich. We expect to hear from David later this evening as to whether he favours Wigan or Norwich. Coventry have faxed through their signed documents, but we inform Coventry that we would still prefer not to complete the McKenzie transfer while the Cotterill deal remains up in the air.
t 6.30pm We receive a call saying that Coventry have announced a £1million, three-year deal for Leon on their website, but can find no trace of this. Leon's transfer papers remain on the desk, waiting for clarification of the David Cotterill transfer.
t 7pm Leon McKenzie telephones Nigel Worthington. In the course of that phone call, it becomes abundantly clear that Leon McKenzie has no future at Norwich City Football Club and that for him to return to Carrow Road would be totally untenable - he simply does not want to come back. He says: “There is no way back. I need to leave Norwich for personal reasons. I feel I cannot play another game for Norwich City. I desperately need this move.” Against this background, it is clear that Leon has to be sold, even though no deal with David Cotterill has been done.
t 9pm Bristol City inform us that David Cotterill has decided to sign for Wigan. We conclude the transfer of Leon McKenzie to Coventry, although we insist on a clause stipulating that Leon cannot play against us in either League game between the sides this season, which Coventry reluctantly agree.
On The Ball, City!