When football eventually returns, it looks like City can expect a right royal kicking, metaphorically speaking at least.
Maybe not so much when it first begins, given that it’s almost certain to be behind closed doors, but with the stadiums full of fans we look set to be the pariahs and be given the full treatment by opposing fans.
I refer of course to the club’s insistence that there will be no Tottenham/Liverpool/Bournemouth style U-turns with regard to the furloughing of non-playing staff and, in doing so, the use of the government’s job retention scheme.
Whether or not that kicking is fully justified is for you to decide but it’s coming; so much so when we eventually we resume we’re borrowing Millwall’s song.
Given the flak that has already been flying, the club clearly felt the need to highlight how and why the decision was taken and, to be fair, were clear in their reasoning when they spoke to Archant and the BBC this week.
Ben Kensell: “Ultimately, if we had the available cashflow to not have to take up schemes then, like other football clubs have, we would.”
This was met with derision by those who couldn’t be bothered to read the detail or who were sucked in by BBC Sport’s tweeting of the piece:
For those who could be bothered, Kensell said it’s a case of the club, which has neither rich owners or cash reserves, having little option but to use the scheme. Unpalatable alternatives would have been to not make up the staffs’ pay with the additional 20 per cent that the government scheme didn’t cover or to instead opt for redundancies.
It’s worth noting too that the players and management have contributed £200,000 towards local initiatives and the players have, separately, joined forces with their Premier League counterparts to raise money for the NHS during the pandemic.
I suspect from an accounting perspective, it’s not as easy as simply transferring sums from the players’ pot to that of the non-playing staff but, equally, it’s impossible to contest that any pay cut taken by the players – which, as I understand it, has yet to be forthcoming – would positively impact the bottom line.
Maybe that’s on its way.
But what the naysayers also fail to grasp is that taking a hit of up to £35 million is seismic for a club that operates on a self-funding model. For City, there are no multi-millionaire or billionaire owners, or global corporations or Middle Eastern countries to fall back on.
Compared to the other 19 teams in the top flight, ours is a hand to mouth existence. The fine margins under which we operate are rarely understood by those outside the Canary Nation.
But that potential black hole of £35 million won’t fill itself. We will have to manage it ourselves – and I suspect we all know how. Money from the sales of our bright young things originally destined for the pot marked ‘reinvest’ will now have to likely be used in a James Maddison/Josh Murphy style.
Definitely not part of the plan. But equally, the fault of no-one.
Never has health before wealth been more important – even if those of a certain strand of society appear unable to grasp that concept.
And the waters are not just choppy for Norwich City FC.
Hopefully, when the dust finally settles – and goodness knows when that will be – football will have done some not-before-time naval gazing and will be an industry that has reinvented itself for the better (I can dream).
Sadly, it will also be an industry that will have lost some of its own along the way, and I’m not just talking about clubs who may struggle to emerge safely from the wreckage.
Whether City’s self-funding ethos will be a blessing or a curse will only become clear much further down the track. But, either way, it’s unfair right now to align the club’s financial difficulties with those of the other 19.
These are crazy times. Please stay safe.