Youth expansion is way ahead for Norwich City

Norwich City have set their sights on making capital gains as they seek to expand their youth recruitment programme.

Chief executive David McNally says the club is looking to open more development centres, along the lines of the one which operates out of Hatfield and which has produced a number of players.

'We will be looking to open new development centres across the country so we can reach out to parts of the country where we might not be able to,' he said.

'They will be within the defined travelling limits, but they will give us a reach into London. I want to develop hungry youngsters and talented footballers.

'I can't pin down where they will be, but rest assured we are looking at several sites.'

The issue came up at Tuesday's annual general meeting at Carrow Road, where McNally said support for the development of young talent was one of a number of principles.

'Every transfer window we will give the manager the opportunity to improve his squad,' he added. 'We will have a quality scouting network. We will enhance the Academy and develop more of our own.'

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The City board appear to be getting to grips with the financial situation at Carrow Road, which allows more money for manager Paul Lambert to improve his squad.

'We are ahead on budget, which allows us to invest in the squad,' said chairman Alan Bowkett.

'We are in a good position in the league at a good time of the year. We have just had a board meeting and we are going to try and raise as much as we can to support Paul for the big push and hopefully we will get there.

'Financially, if we don't get there this year we will have money to get there over the next couple of seasons.'

Although City's transfer fees are always secret, Lambert isn't believed to have spent big in the current transfer window and despite wanting to keep Henri Lansbury until the rest of the season, again admitted his reluctance to sign loan players.

City's current status in the Championship has brought inevitable comparisons with the title-winning team of 2004, when the help of a trio of big-name loan players – Darren Huckerby, Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper – played a major part in securing promotion. But the club has had its fingers burned since, with some expensive flops, hence Lambert's policy of demanding 'hunger' as a prerequisite.

'Money dictates the game,' he said. 'I won't go out and put the club into the position it was and I won't go for lads who are not hungry.

'I need lads who will run through a wall for me. I won't go for somebody who has lost a bit of hunger or take them from a Premier reserve side if you like – people like Lansbury are different because they are young.

'Yes, you might need one or two to give you that push over the line, but I may have to wait and see when that time comes.'

City have a seven-year plan, which ends with a consolidating role in the Premier League which, if achieved, would mean an increased capacity at Carrow Road to about 35,000 as a means of eventually making the club self sufficient.

And while last season's League One success immediately put them one year ahead of their plan, there would be no arguments if City, currently fourth in the table, jumped the gun again and completed a remarkable turnaround by reaching the Premier League this summer.

McNally's presentation to shareholders included a run-down of just what can be earned by a Premier League team – with a guaranteed �90m on the table for just one season in the top flight.

While City received just �1m from central funds for their season in League One and will receive �4.9m for the current campaign, the figures make a dramatic leap to �41m for a club that finishes bottom of the Premier League – with a �750,000 paid for each place above 20th. Parachute payments for relegated clubs are �17.7m for the first year, �14.7m for the second year and �8m in the third and fourth years.

'One year in the Premier League guarantees �90m of additional income without kicking a ball,' said McNally.

'Is it too soon to be promoted? There are 90 million reasons to make certain we are ready. If the opportunity surfaces you take it.'