A daft question really, but how are we doing? Good enough I hope, in these most trying of times.
I’ve been posting pieces of daily content from the MFW team in an attempt to offer even the tiniest of distractions, but in the real world, the most awful of disasters is steadily – in London not-so-steadily – unfolding.
Wallowing in some NCFC nostalgia has, for some, been a way of temporarily escaping the gloom but for others – and I totally get it – there are far more important things to be thinking about right now than Norwich City FC.
As long as there is a demand I’ll keep on posting – even if I have to occasionally dip into the archives – but I respect those who’ve told me in no uncertain terms it’s neither the time nor the place. We all handle things differently at times of crisis.
But I can’t thank the team enough for their efforts so far. Content-wise, it’s been no different to any spring and, for that, I’m immensely grateful.
[By the way, if any of our readers wish to post their own thoughts or reminiscences vaguely related to our wonderful football club, then please feel free to forward them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and there’ll be a guest blog awaiting you. Some of the current MFW team began with said guest blog.]
But, in the greater scheme of things, this is just fluff and we’re well aware of that. As this crisis deepens, it becomes ever more apparent that when we eventually return to Carrow Road it will be a very different place – with some empty seats.
Never before have we encountered a period of such uncertainty. While heroes emerge, so too do the worst society has to offer. When this is over, the world, and its chancers, will be perceived very differently.
For some, there will be a day of reckoning.
Right now we’re gripped by anxiety, fear and dread, and it’s horrible. The small things that one month ago would have driven us mad, would now be welcomed with open arms.
A stupid example, but I’d give anything for a news bulletin to contain ‘Brexit’ as its opening gambit, just as I’d happily be nudged by anyone in that ironic ‘nudge, nudge, wink, wink’ type way. Man, that used to really irk, as I’m sure it will again, but right now I’d take one of those.
And how I miss giving my mum a hug and her telling me I need to lose some weight, or for Dad to look me up and down and tell me I badly need a shave, or that I’m starting to look old, or… you get the gist.
Things that one month ago would have been met with a frown or a shrug, all of a sudden become so important. The little things even more so than the big ones.
Football’s response to the crisis has been acutely analysed in the media and there’s no doubting the Premier League has not covered itself in glory, as they leak theories of how they think they can conclude the season to appease their Sky and BT paymasters.
If the idea was to gauge public opinion on how well received a ‘World Cup style’ tournament in London or Birmingham or a China-based schedule would be received, I hope they were listening.
Of course, at some point, these things will have to be considered, but not while ever-increasing numbers of those around us are dying. Some things are more important than pounds.
But… in the last few days, they’ve also said a £125 million solidarity payment will be made to the EFL and another £20 million will be donated to the NHS.
They also stated they would meet the PFA over the clubs’ proposals to cut player wages by 30 per cent during the pandemic. That meeting took place yesterday.
As it transpired, the PFA were not agreeable to the proposal and have set their members, potentially, on a crash course with their employers. Gordon Talylor and his merry men instead argued that any pay cuts would deny the Exchequer vital millions in taxes and would instead feather the nest of the owners, who may not necessarily direct the 30 per cent to the areas needed.
While part of this may come from a good place, the part that appears solely focussed on protecting their members’ earnings at this critical time for the country, stinks to high heaven.
So, still plenty more discussions to be had, and I was never keen on the use of the word ‘deferral’, but football is desperately trying to play its part and it didn’t need Matt Hancock putting the boot in when a) he has other stuff to concentrate on, and b) the same sentiment could equally be applied to the rich, wealthy and powerful who are not professional footballers.
(I’ll sshhh… not for MFW).
Our club, through some unfortunate timing, has found itself lumped in with Tottenham, Newcastle and Liverpool in the ‘nasty PL clubs who are furloughing their non-playing staff’ stories, while the nationals conveniently forget to mention that our club is making up the additional 20 per cent of each employees’ salaries.
If this had been announced alongside the story of the playing squad, Head Coach and Executive Committee agreeing to donate over £200,000 to those in need in the Norwich and the wider Norfolk community, then maybe we could have saved ourselves some negative press.
But, for those who care to study the detail, I fail to see anything intrinsically wrong with how this club has acted in these most difficult of circumstances. We have neither wealthy owners, nor oodles of reserves swishing around and when you’re self-financing the margins are very fine.
Our income has risen significantly since entering the Premier League but so too has our expenditure. The net position remains. To lump us in with the behemoths of north London and Merseyside is, quite frankly, ludicrous.
Those who are taking a pop are doing so because they’re looking for an excuse to do so.
Quite how long we’ll be in lockdown for remains to be seen and, as Johnson has reminded us, it will get worse before it gets better. But somewhere down the track, it will get better.
And at some point, God willing, we’ll be re-united, either at Carrow Road itself, or by tuning into Carrow Road as the Canaries resume.
But for now, we stay indoors, do all the right things, close our eyes and dream. Dream of that visceral, deafening, spine-tingling roar as Big Grant next leads our players out of that tunnel.
Stay safe my friends. I miss you.