From the moment that he was appointed to the role, Ed Balls was always going to be a controversial choice as Norwich City chairman.
As a former Labour Shadow Chancellor and Shadow Home Secretary he was always going to attract antipathy from those of a different political persuasion, while the fact that he was a non-executive director continues to this day to cause confusion.
Essentially a non-executive director typically does not engage in the day-to-day management of an organization but is involved in policymaking and planning exercises.
Consequently, people criticising him for appearing on Strictly Come Dancing on the last day of a transfer window were rather missing the point.
My first experience of Ed, several years ago, was a quick chat at a urinal at Stamford Bridge after City had lost to Chelsea. At that point he was still an MP but got to as many City games as possible, mixing with the fans rather than hobnobbing in the boardroom.
As he says himself, he was brought up in the Barclay so why wouldn’t he be in the thick of it?
Since then I’ve got to know him a little better through the Canaries Trust, initially when he stepped into the breach after the sudden departure of David McNally, a period which gives me a chance to nail another myth about him.
At that point the Club was in a state of chaos, as an obsessively micro managed system, which had required McNally’s approval for even the most minor decision, now had to be revamped radically in limited time, and as a result Ed was putting in 18-hour days while also trying to fulfil his other commitments to Harvard University and Kings College London.
The fact that the rest of the Board recognised his efforts and loss of earnings by authorising a payment that he had not requested inevitably attracted criticism but was in fact a thoroughly deserved reward.
I wonder how many of those who attacked that payment would happily give up two months of their working lives for nothing and, in fact, at significant personal cost?
The fact that he has never courted publicity in his role has made it easy for those with an axe to grind to question his actual value to the Club, usually allied to snipes about his high profile on TV (once again based on a failure, or refusal, to understand his non-executive role).
In reality, his contribution was immense, not least in overseeing the difficult transition from the riches of the Premier League to the post parachute payment era and playing a significant role in the move to our current management system.
He was also instrumental in seeking the views of people like Damien Comolli, with whom Stuart Webber worked at Liverpool. Those conversations had a significant impact on Ed’s growing belief that the Sporting Director model was the way forward, something of which he was able to convince the rest of the City Board, and from which we are starting to reap the benefits.
My most recent meeting with Ed once again emphasised his contacts and resultant ability to open doors.
Despite their best efforts, no football club had managed to get a face-to-face meeting with Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch to discuss the issue of safe standing, but thanks to Ed’s political connections a number of representatives of fan groups and club officials from Norwich City were granted a lengthy audience, which resulted in a very constructive dialogue and the promise of future consultation.
Lack of publicity doesn’t equate to lack of action, and I for one will miss working with Ed, firstly because he is a thoroughly nice, and totally unpretentious bloke, but most importantly because, as anyone who knows him will confirm, he is one of the most passionate fans of our Club that you could hope to meet.