Football supporters love nothing more than a good conspiracy theory. Or even a bad one. Our sport is fertile ground for rumour and conjecture.
At Norwich City, we’re no different. We can do conspiracy theories along with the best of them.
Remember the mother of them all? The one where Dean Ashton mysteriously picked up an injury in training that precluded him from playing in a 2005 FA Cup tie against West Ham?
That Deano went on, a few days later, to sign for West Ham was, according to Nigel Worthington, merely a coincidence. So insistent was Worthy that nothing untoward had gone on, he offered to release publicly the scans that would prove once and for all that Ashton had picked up a legit injury.
Alas, Nigel was about as convincing as Boris Johnson at the Privileges Committee. And, to my knowledge, the scans never made it into the public domain.
There have been others since – admittedly none as thrilling as Scan-gate – but most tend to thrive when there is a lack of official information and/or communication.
The void naturally gets filled with guesswork and speculation. Human nature takes over. Sometimes that void is unavoidable and borne of necessity – when a legal process is ongoing, for example – but your average football fan gives not two hoots about the vagaries of the sub judice rule or the complexities of company law.
They care more about their football club and whether it is in good shape (or not) and whether or not it’s aiming to be the best it can possibly be. On that particular subject, they are always more than happy to offer their two penneth to fill the void.
So it’s unsurprising that over the last week, MFW has had comments aplenty on the subject of the new share issue – the one approved by shareholders at an Emergency General Meeting on February 13 – and where this all could be heading.
If you needed reminding, the motion passed was for an additional 194,512 shares to be made available for purchase. This will take the total number of shares up to 811,425 – up from the existing 616,913 and an increase of 24 percent.
Most of us hoped and assumed that said new allocation would head in the direction of the Attanasios. If purchased by them, it would take their share in the Club up to at least 36 percent and within a whisker of Delia and Michael’s shareholding, which upon the new issue would be diluted to around 40 percent.
Worth noting too is that the Attanasios have hoovered up several other smaller shareholdings – quantity as yet unknown – and so would edge them ever closer, maybe even beyond, the number held by Delia and Michael.
Lots of ifs and wishful thinking there.
The crux of it all appeared to come in a throwaway final line in the original letter to shareholders.
Quote: “Further information will follow once the formal business of the meeting has concluded.”
Except it didn’t. There was no further information.
The meeting lasted nine minutes and the can was further kicked down the road with another final line, delivered on the Club’s website upon its conclusion:
Quote: “The board will now work through the legal and regulatory process with a view to issuing a further update in due course.”
‘In due course’ doing a lot of heavy lifting there.
As I write, nearly six weeks have elapsed since the EGM and there has been not the slightest hint of white smoke coming from Carrow Road’s Sistine Chapel.
That’s not to say that developments are not ongoing behind closed doors – they almost certainly are – but for most of us there is absolutely nothing to go on.
So we speculate.
Some fans – and I talk mainly here of the good folk of the Canaries Trust – have recently been privy to an interview with Tom Smith and so may be better informed than most, although I understand Tom was not at liberty to confirm whether Mark Attanasion was taking up the new share issue
But for those who have grown tired of and disillusioned with the Delia Smith regime, and who perceived the new share issue as a potential new start for the Club, the wait feels like a long one.
In a piece I wrote at the time when the original letters went out to shareholders, I dismissed the idea of Delia and Michael (and/or Tom) increasing their percentage share of the Club as fanciful. Surely not.
I still find the idea unlikely but can see why, given their intransigence over the years to all things external, some fans remain fearful that rather than dilute their shareholding, the Smith family may see this as an opportunity to fortify it.
Ultimately, this would be a massive step backward and would be the very antithesis of the boost we are looking for. Some may call it a kick in the teeth.
I’m not sure even the staunchest supporters of self-funding wholly believe in self-funding anymore, so for the Club to not only continue down that route but to double down on it would be quite something – the fallout from which I dare not even contemplate.
But, to those who fear the worst, I have only this:
I don’t have the faintest idea what the next few weeks and months will bring (the downside of being the least well-informed of all Norwich City writers) and am unable to offer you even the vaguest of assurances, but I just don’t believe the Attanasios would still be hanging around if there was no deal to be done.
They made very clear their intention of taking on a bigger role in our Club and they’re not the type of businesspeople who would be content to play a diminishing bit-part role and remain in the background for the medium term.
Flawed logic maybe, but for now I’m sticking to it.