City Chief Executive Neil Doncaster yesterday played a firm bat to rumours in a national newspaper that Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn-Jones were ready to hand over the reins of the club.
The majority shareholders ? who so famously bailed the club out of a whole heap of trouble back in 1996 ? have been rather quiet of late and with Delia now embarking on a new television series and book, it has been reported that the Smiths are ready to step down.
Sharon and Andrew Turner, the board's newest members after that ?2m cash injection in the summer, are seen as the natural successors. It could well happen, whether it is this year, next year or in five years time. But Doncaster insisted he knew of no such move at the present time.
“I'm not aware there is any truth whatsoever in that sort of speculation, which frankly, at this moment in time is unhelpful,” said Doncaster. “It's not something she has mentioned to me but I've learnt to never make predictions in football about the future and I'm not going to start doing it now.
“But I reiterate I have absolutely no reason to believe there is any truth in the speculation. I have no doubt whatsoever that Delia and Michael, Sharon and Andrew and the other members of the board have the best interests of the football club at heart ? and that will remain to be the case.”
Thoughts now turn to Peter Grant's successor at the club as the dust finally settles on the Scot's departure late on Tuesday night. In the short-term, Grant's former right-hand man Jim Duffy takes charge but Doncaster refused to be drawn on whether he was a genuine candidate for the role.
It was very much classic Norwich City stuff – 'when there's something to report, we'll tell you'. Don't expect to hear too much said from the corridors of power on who the new man will or will not be.
“I'm not going to have any expectations at this stage on whether the candidate will come internally, externally, whether it's Jim Duffy or whoever,” added Doncaster. “The board are entirely open minded about the situation. What it is important to do is identify the right attributes and what the make up of the next manager of this club will be.
“Then we'll look at all the people that are out there, whether they are at clubs, not at clubs; it is all about finding the best person out there for this football club.”
One member of the gathered press even dared to mention names; Paul Jewell ? who has been installed as the early front-runner by most bookmakers ? was put to Doncaster as a possible successor. But, as is company policy, there was to be a 'no comment' reply.
“There is going to be that sort of speculation in the weeks and months ahead. That is part of football. But I'm not going to be drawn on any name whatsoever. There will be people saying they have been contacted by the club or that they've contacted us.
“That sort of talk is going to be part and parcel of life for a while but there will be no speculation from the club. When there is something to report we'll report it. Names being linked to Norwich City, we will not comment on. Peter is obviously replaced by Jim in the short term in a caretaker role and will be in charge when the players return to training today.
“We had a meeting with Jim after we made the decision with Peter and he agreed to take temporary charge. He will now do his best to prepare the team for the visit of Bristol City on Saturday. That is the immediate priority at Colney.”
Clearly, in the board's eyes, there was no right man out there just yet, no outstanding candidate. It will be a long, laborious process, sifting through applications ? of which there will be many ? and identifying the right person for the club at this moment. There are right people at right times for certain clubs and the board have to get this appointment spot on if the Canaries are to halt their freefall down the Championship table.
“What the board will now be doing is identifying the attributes that it feels the football club needs to take us forward,” said Doncaster. “We'll then look at all the candidates out there and when we're ready, we'll make an appointment.
“Experience is an attribute that the board may look for. But you can come up with a whole range of different attributes that is required; it is for the board to make a decision about what we feel we need going forward. We'll then look at the people out there with those attributes in mind.
“We will need someone now who can take us out of the situation we are in to a situation where we are challenging for promotion.
“The performances have been well below par lately and it is our job to identify the person who can get us results on the pitch first and foremost and give our supporters what they deserve.”