City are in the money – but the bills just got a lot bigger
PUBLISHED: 15:40 09 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:17 10 February 2020
Norwich City FC
If there is one thing that promotion has brought Norwich City it is – through no fault of their own – a need to explain that the streets around Carrow Road are not suddenly paved with gold.
City were able to watch from a distance as four teams battled their way through the play-offs to the ultimate celebration the nerve-shredding exercise brings to the winner - success at Wembley. And with it comes the 'ballpark' figures of just what that is worth to the winner - take your pick from £140m to anything up to £200m, depending on the media channel of your choice.
It all sounds grand, but the real story is very different: Norwich City's sporting director knows only too well, given he is the man who has to balance the books. And at City, that is something that runs through the club's DNA: self-sufficiency is key.
"Fundamentally the figures (in region of £170m) are pretty close, but they come to you over three years," he explained.
"By getting there you guarantee your Premier League money and then your year two parachute and year three parachute, assuming that you get relegated, that's locked in, but over three years.
"The thing that people forget is that 80 percent of the players have uplifts in their contracts, so straight away our wage bill will jump considerably - and well deserved, by the way.
"Then there is also the bonus to be paid to the players who got us there, and again well deserved, and the staff. You've also got the contingency payment of players we bought and that have been bought previously, even as far back as four years ago.
"You'll have it in some of the transfer dealings that 'when the club is promoted to the Premier League you'll get X', so when you put all that together you have a big chunk of money which goes out straight away, which you don't even see.
"You don't begrudge paying it because you've achieved promotion."
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The reality is all there: promotion is fantastic, but the hard work doesn't stop. City have a philosophy and Webber is determined to stick with that, come what may.
"We know this club is self-funding, it's not just become that, it's always been that, so it's not a surprise then if you get problems from over-spending," he said.
"It's different if you've got an owner who's ploughing in money and then suddenly they have a sulk and don't want to spend money any more and you're like 'oh my god, we've planned that', then it's nobody's fault.
"When it comes to that situation where you know that and you can't take that risk, we know that and if people don't like that, I don't really care, because I know what it's taken us to get back on an even keel.
"It's hard because I would never want to put somebody through that, and if that means we don't spend the money that people think we need to stay in the league, I'll take that and say that the club is in a much healthier state than it was and that's the most important thing."
If some of the costs of promotion are 'invisible', one of City's big achievements in Webber's short time at the helm is there in bricks and mortar at the Colney training centre, which has undergone a massive transformation. Some of the funding came through a successful £5m bond scheme with promotion enabling City to repay investors. It's a facility which can stand for ever as a product of City's amazing 2018-19 season.
"We've paid the bond back as well, which is a considerable amount of money, to pay for our facility - which again was great to be able to pay that because we've genuinely got something to show for that promotion," said Webber.
"Whatever happens in the future now to any of us who have been part of this, we can always look back and say we transformed the training ground as a self-funding club. Someone didn't come and pay that for us, we had to be creative with how we did it and we achieved it together, so that's brilliant.
"So straight away so much money goes and no doubt when we announce our accounts towards the AGM in November, this promotion will end up meaning we've lost a lot of money for this year.
"It ends up balancing itself because we'll make a load of money for this year, that's just a fact."
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