One of the more painful – albeit all-too predictable – exits of the summer was duly completed last night as City's Player of the Season Lee Croft signed on the dotted line for Derby County.
The 24-year-old – and as such available on a Bosman-style free transfer – agreed a three-year deal with Rams' boss Nigel Clough and became the latest in a long line of Barry Butler Trophy winners to disappear out of Norfolk before the start of the next season.
This morning and Croft's new Rams team-mate Gary Teale was welcoming his new wing pal and predicting exciting times at Pride Park under Clough Jnr.
“I think he will be a great signing,” Teale told the Derby Telegraph. “I have played against him when he was at Norwich and he should be a great addition to the squad.
“Derby have done really well to get him on a free transfer as I'm sure there were other clubs interested. To get a player of that quality is a big bonus for the club.”
Rams chairman of football Adam Pearson confirmed that Croft had nigh-on signed last week. All that was left to do was for the one-time England Under-21 star to return from a summer holiday in Egypt and then the deal would be done.
Which it duly was.
“I am delighted with this move and I can't wait to get started with pre-season training,” said Croft on his arrival in the East Midlands.
“Derby showed me their intentions early and showed how much they wanted me which was a big factor in me wanting to come here. It is a huge club with a great history and tradition, a tremendous support base and I feel there is a lot of synergy in both the club's and my ambition.
“There is also a good squad of players here already and with the improvement that the gaffer (Nigel Clough) is looking to make I have no doubt that we can have success and push for promotion.”
The manager was equally delighted by Croft's arrival.
“This is a terrific capture for us and fills a position in the team where we need extra quality,” said Brian's boy. “Lee is an exciting talent who is proven at this level and above and has a great attitude.
“He has shown a great desire to play for Derby County as well and these are the types of players and characters I want at this football club as we look to progress and improve.”
In the meantime, the Norwich City Supporters Trust gave their reaction to yesterday's news that some two-thirds of the club's season ticket holders had decided to call-in their rebate – leaving the Canaries with ?713,603 to find.
For some, that was was clear evidence of a deep discord between the board and the club's supporter base. The fact that director Michael Foulger kept to his pledge of matching, pound for pound, the money not reclaimed – a gesture that left the Banham Poultry chief ?359,604 out of pocket – will have to started to rebuild a few bridges, but the division and distrust still lingers.
For Trust chairman Paul Bond one answer would be for the 11,707 supporters who claimed their rebate to channel that money into buying into the Trust's share pot and, thereby, seeing its bloc influence grow.
“The Trust believes we have a scheme which would allow the Club to regain expected teambuilding income, but also strengthen the fans input into the club by making the fans a major shareholder,” said Bond.
“If every season ticket holder reclaiming their rebate joined the Supporters Trust and donated their refund, the Trust would invest and hold a significant fan-based stake in the club.
“The Trust believes such action by a large proportion of the 63.3% of season ticket holders would give the fans the second or third largest shareholding in the Club and one that would endure. And with such a large number of members in the Trust, the board would find it impossible to ignore the voice of fans.”
And from within their ranks would come a democratically-elected fan on the board, goes the theory.
Where an honourable theory is then tested is when said elected rep sits around the board table and is sworn to matters of a confidential nature – nine times out of ten, just the sort of information that fans traditionally demand to be privvy to.
Further information on the Norwich City Supporters Trust can be found at www.ncst.org.uk and their sister organisation, Supporters Direct, at www.supporters-direct.org .
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