With a deep-rooted distrust of all politicians, I’ve grown pretty weary of the steady stream of pre-election platitudes, being served by those wishing to secure our votes.
Whether you prefer your soundbites to be ‘strong and stable’ or for ‘the many, not the few’, the daily barrage of ‘promises, promises, promises’ means it’s all getting a bit Jez Moxey.
Unlike those wishing to run the country, those who run football clubs don’t tend to face a public vote – not unless you count the occasional show of hands at an AGM.
Or unless you want to run Barcelona.
The Catalan giants are one of a small handful clubs (alongside Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna) where the fans vote for the president.
Not all Barcelona fans – only the so-called ‘socios’ – those members who meet stringent criteria and who are prepared to pay for the privilege of voting on club matters, as well as securing discounted tickets.
As of July 2016 Barcelona had 143,459 of them.
Alongside those privileges, becoming a socio also allows you to run for the presidency itself. That is provided you can get your candidacy endorsed by 2,534 of your peers – and provided you can lay your hands on circa 75 million euros to serve as collateral, which safeguards the club from any operating losses.
Tick all those boxes, secure enough of the electoral vote and you could find yourself serving a four-year term as ‘el presidente’ with the responsibility for the overall management of the club, including signing players and negotiating contracts.
In order to secure the votes, presidential candidates are obliged to set out their vision and a list of commitments; which normally means the promise of certain high-profile players and honours.
Imagine that at Norwich City. If you had 75 million ‘lying around’, would you stand for the presidency? If so, what promises would you make?
So, fellow City Socios – here is my ‘manifesto’ :
Our club faces the most important season in years. Without decisive action, the lingering riches from our Premier League adventures will be gone in twelve months’ time and therefore we find ourselves staring over a precipice of Championship mediocrity due to a catalogue of previous mistakes.
But now is not the time for recriminations or regrets. Now is the time to look forward and regain the spirit and togetherness that earned those riches and our place amongst the elite.
It is time to rebuild our identity; to create a club that is capable of returning to the Premier League and retaining top flight status season after season.
My plan is straight forward. We invest in youth and the supporting infrastructure.
Our training facilities at Colney are dated and inadequate. In order to attract the best young talent from our region and further afield we will develop facilities that demonstrate our commitment to player development.
We will create a club ethos and a playing style based on fast-flowing attractive football, which is adopted at every level within the club’s structure and becomes part of our DNA. There will be clear succession planning through the academy and youth team ranks to create a seamless transition through to the first-team.
We will retain a core of experienced players but revamp an ageing squad with young, gifted and hungry players who recognise and value the honour of playing for Norwich City.
We will forge partnerships with clubs from across a number of European leagues so that our young players can gain experience of playing abroad and develop as individuals, as well as attracting promising players from across the continent.
It is also vital that we attract the supporters of the future and so we will place a freeze on new season tickets, which over time will reduce the capped number of season ticket holders and allow for more casual supporters as well as reducing admission prices to the under 16’s.
We will also invest more heavily in our Community Sports Foundation to support our region’s children and secure our place within the heart of the community.
The club is yours. We will hold elections for three new Board members from within our fan base with no restriction or demands on the candidates to provide you – the fans – a voice in the day to day running and strategic direction of the club. Each individual will remain in post for a maximum of two years before new elections.
We will create stronger links to our supporter groups through regular meetings and subsidise membership of those forums. Myself and the Directors will also commit to being available before and after every home match to meet all fans for open discussion.
We recognise the importance of our club brand and identity and so we will dispense with third-kits and adopt consistent away colours from now on which will be voted for by the supporters. We will also revert to having yellow nets in the goals of our stadium.
But Carrow Road is not just a stadium – it is our spiritual home and the football club belongs in the city. So longer term we will increase the capacity of our stadium to 35,000 by redeveloping the City stand and replacing the hotel with a new infill. We will also canvass the footballing authorities for safe-standing areas and introduce that into the Barclay stand at the first opportunity.
All of this will need financing and require significant investment.
In the first instance we will make 500,000 new ordinary shares available for purchase in order to generate the funds to finance our initial plans.
Longer term, we will implement a sustainable and self-financing operating model based on player development and subsequent sales.
I understand that nobody wants to see the sale of our best players but we will ensure that our academy and scouting network produces ready-made replacements to mitigate any departures, whilst keeping a vibrant young squad which can hold its own in the Premier League.
So there you have it – the vision and the ‘masterplan’.
How long do you give it before the protests start outside the Board room calling for my head?
I reckon half a season.
But in the meantime – ‘Viva El Presidente’.