In two, simple paragraphs published on the club’s official website Norwich City Football Club tonight ended the on-going legal row with ex-boss Paul Lambert.
“Paul Lambert, Norwich City and Aston Villa have agreed settlement in respect of the dispute regarding Paul Lambert’s departure from Norwich City, whereby Villa will pay Norwich City the original amount as agreed in the contract between Paul Lambert and Norwich City, and Norwich City will pay Paul Lambert the bonus he was entitled to after completion of the 2011/12 season,” the statement read.
“This represents a final settlement of all claims and disputes between the parties. No further comment will be made.”
The two parties had been locked in an increasingly bitter legal stand-off – sue and counter-sue being thick in the air this autumn in the wake of Lambert’s summer exit for Aston Villa.
With all but a handful of people blissfully unaware of what, exactly, was in Lambert’s contract and who was and wasn’t in breach of said document, this evening’s short statement will leave most none the wiser – other than a feeling that common sense had prevailed and a compromise settlement had been agreed between the two parties.
The biggest losers are likely to be the lawyers who were smacking their lips at the likely fees involved had the row gone the length of the season and only been settled at a league arbitration panel next summer.
Given that Lambert’s Villa were today on the wrong end of an 8-0 caning by European Cup winners Chelsea, the ex-City boss probably has more on his plate to worry about than the precise, legal niceties that surrounded his exit last summer.
Today’s hammering also suggests that Chelsea are warming up nicely for their Boxing Day trip to Norfolk.
City, by contrast, will be looking to bounce back straight away from this weekend’s 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion – an 11th game unbeaten in the English Premier League was not to be.
“We did well in spells – but we gifted them two easy goals,” was the post-match verdict of City winger Robert Snodgrass, who at least had the consolation of grabbing another free-kick strike for the game’s opening goal.
Thereafter, however, and Norwich failed to make such an early success count. And minus injured skipper Grant Holt could only watch as the Baggies dug their way back into the contest scoring a killer goal shortly before the interval.
“Definitely,” was his verdict, when quizzed about the importance of that leveller and whether it proved to be a game-changer.
“We were coasting before that – they couldn’t get near us,” said the Scottish international. “It wasn’t even a corner to begin with and I thought the keeper was getting fouled.
“These things sometimes go for you or against you – and they went against us today.”
Snodgrass insisted, however, that the belief was still very much alive and kicking in the City dressing room as the Norfolk side prepared to play host to a free-scoring Chelsea ahead of that clash with reigning Premier League champions, Manchester City.
“When you’re beating the Manchester Uniteds and the Arsenals and you’re going on that ten-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, there is that belief,” he told BBC Radio Norfolk afterwards.
“But its down to how much we want it as a team – do we want to be up there fighting in the top half of the table? But I speak for the lads when I say that we’ve got great players here and a great management team and I think we can keep climbing.”
Over and above the state of Holt’s fitness, boss Chris Hughton may yet have to make a change in defence where Steven Whittaker failed to last the full 90 minutes with a recurrence of his recent injury problems. Russell Martin is a tailor-made replacement at right-back.
Sub keeper Declan Rudd was also confined to the hotel with a sickness bug. He, too, will be closely monitored ahead of the Boxing Day clash.