The deepening economic crisis and a deep-seated feeling among supporters that asking them to pay any more for any more seasons scrabbling around at the wrong end of the Championship, today emerged as two of the key factors underpinning the club's decision to freeze season ticket prices across the board for 2009-2010.
So for those who renew early, a standard, adult season ticket in the Barclay Stand will cost the same as if did in 2008-2009 – ?366.
Once again, an interest free-payment scheme will be in place to spread the cost; 11,000 of the club's supporters took full advantage of the scheme last season. In the current, financial climate, even more are expected to follow suit next season as the club's pledge to provide affordable family football comes under it's greatest test yet.
Household budgets are being squeezed like never before. And certainly under the last manager, the unquestioning loyalty and support that underpins that crucial 20,000-strong season-ticket base appeared – for many – to be taken for granted.
And as their opinions and knowledge was both belittled and ignored, so more and more were beginning to ask the same questions of themselves – that a whole generation of 30-something and 40-something supporters were, for the first time, wondering whether they would actually renew this season.
Whether the Canaries can – particularly in the teeth of this growing economic gale – repeat the record-breaking feat of having 20,364 season ticket holders to their name after another 350 supporters signed up for the club's half-season ticket deal is another matter.
The fact that next Tuesday night's home clash with fellow relegation strugglers Southampton will feature a Class of '93 reunion party as former Canary playmaker Ian Crook steps back onto the hallowed turf and joins Bryan Gunn's new-look managerial team will help – Crook landed home from Australia at a little after 6.30am this morning – as will the club's decision to freeze prices across the board.
But it will remain a tough ask of the Carrow Road family; times are hard – and getting ever harder.
“I understand from this morning's news that the country is going to be classified as being in recession after two, consecutive quarters of negative growth,” said club chairman Roger Munby, as the club launched its first season ticket renewal push with customer services manager Richard Gough at the helm – Andrew Cullen's marketing magic dust now being liberally sprinkled over the MK Dons.
But after 11 years of taking advice from a 'Pricing Working Group' that features four supporters at its core, so Munby remained confident that today's 'Prices frozen!' headlines would be viewed as good news; just as the arrival of Gunn, Crook and new chief scout John Deehan has been deemed a decent move among the faithful – with UEFA Cup skipper Ian Butterworth still expected to join the Three Amigos before that Saints game.
Hartlepool's obdurate chairman permitting.
“We're in the process of an urgent and necessary transformation,” said Munby, with the 'transformational' atmosphere of last Saturday's 4-0 win over Barnsley doing so much to dictate the Norfolk mood.
“Started by one, continued by another,” he continued. “And that's an important context in which to appreciate where our fans emotions and thoughts are coming from.”
Out on the streets, in the stands Munby had sensed a restless mood – that if people were going to renew this year, it was only with a grudging heart. That, he hoped, was starting to change; that the managerial changes of late had injected fresh heart and new hope into the Green And Yellow Army; that with season tickets for Under-12s still pegged at ?25, the club's commitment to recapture the hearts and minds of what Cullen last year saw as 'a lost generation' would continue to win people round.
Chief executive Neil Doncaster confirmed just how important that 20,000-strong season ticket base was to the club's financial well-being – particularly in the wake of the ?1.5 million hole left in the finances by the Turners departure from the board last year.
“Season tickets remain the absolute life blood of this club and it's vital that we maximise the fantastic loyalty that's shown by our supporters,” said Doncaster. “To have 20,000 season ticket holders remains the envy of every other Championship club.
“So it is vital that we try to encourage as many season ticket holders to renew as possible through the pricing of season tickets. We hope that we've given every encouragement to people to do that.”
Sat alongside Messrs Doncaster and Munby were two of the four supporters' representative on that key working party – Rob Emery and James Woodrow.
All concerned insisted that prices for 2009-2010 were finally fixed in November; events of late had no bearing on their thinking – be it economically or managerially, that pricing die was cast in late autumn; and that Doncaster himself was one of the primary advocates of pushing through the 0% 'rise'.
Relegation to League One would, as last season, see both a rebate and a reduction kick in; for those that opted to renew before the first deadline, a saving of up to 31% was available. As was a number of free season tickets for the under sevens.
Put together and – in fairness – City continue to break new ground in terms of sustaining that extraordinary season ticket base; given the footballing fare that has actually been on offer, it remains a remarkable feat of marketing on one side – and of patience and loyalty on the other.
“Affordable family football live at Carrow Road has been the absolute focus of what we've all been about for the last 12 years,” said Doncaster.
“That's the key priority. And being sensitive to the needs of the supporters who are struggling with the credit crunch. We understand that.”