Canary deputy chairman Michael Foulger has admitted that his heart ruled his head when it came to this week’s news of a £2 million cash injection into the Norfolk club.
It was the price that the Banham Poultry chief agreed to pay for 80,000 Ordinary shares in the Championship outfit; taking his overall shareholding to 15%.
The proviso was simple – that the money be ring-fenced for Paul Lambert’s transfer activity. The likely return? Unknown.
The club have spent the better part of two years scouring the globe for a potential new owner – and drawn a big, fat blank. Whether, therefore, Foulger will ever see his money again is open to doubt.
Football has that effect on people; particularly when their blood runs as vivid a shade of Canary Yellow as Foulger’s.
It was not, he readily admitted to BBC Radio Norfolk, a decision based on sound commercial logic.
“I don’t think it’s possible to make a commercial decision in football – it’s a passion,” he said, simply. “As a lifelong fan and a board member who wants to see this great club try to move forward.”
In this division, £2 million can still go a long way; in the top tier of English football the story is rather different. Fernando Torres’ agent probably doesn’t even answer the phone for £2 million.
But given the precarious path the great majority of Championship clubs have to tread between ambition and that dread word ‘prudence’, adding that extra muscle to Paul Lambert’s transfer thinking could really make a difference.
“It is a lot of money, but it is earmarked solely for the strengthening of the playing squad,” Foulger reiterated.
It was, quite clearly, a ringing endorsement for the manager; few could now accuse the board of not backing their man to the hilt as the Canaries look down the finishing straight.
The money, Foulger revealed, had been in place for the January transfer window; Lambert could, therefore, have done more but chose to stick pretty much with the players already at his disposal.
The knowledge that the cash was there, in the pot, would have enabled him to reward his players’ efforts with longer contracts; all of which ensures that the philosophy of ‘You look after me, I’ll look after you…’ is very much alive and kicking in the Lambert dressing room.
It also clearly helps the club’s chief executive David McNally as he looks to ensure that every last penny is made to count around the corridors of Carrow Road.
Compared to certain other owners at certain other football clubs, having the likes of Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones and, of course, Foulger to work with must make the world of difference.
As McNally was swift to acknowledge as he, too, spoke to BBC Radio Norfolk in the wake of this week’s big news.
“Delia and Michael Wynn Jones need to be given enormous credit,” he told listeners.
“They are completely and utterly supportive of this move, even though their shareholding in the business goes down from 61% to 53% overnight.
“And I don’t think they’re given enough credit for what they do, all they want is the best for the football club,” he added.
“They’ve always said they will never stand in the way of anybody investing in the football club, providing those people care about the club. And in Michael Foulger we’ve got somebody who cares passionately about Norwich City.”
This week’s move certainly gained the full approval of the Norwich City Supporters Trust as one of their own helped the Norfolk club return to an ever more secure financial footing.
“This type of investment from wealthy individuals who are steeped in the heritage of the community and the Club is exactly what football needs,” said the Trust Board’s secretary Mike Reynolds.
His fervent wish remained that other wealthy, Norfolk-based benefactors would now follow Foulger’s lead.
“It would be nice to think that there were other wealthy Norfolk business people who also recognised the importance the football club has within the community it serves and would be willing to become large shareholders.
“In the meantime the Trust will continue to do its bit, however miniscule in comparison to the recent input of funds, by making regular purchase of shares as and when funds dictate.”