I wrote a piece last Friday in which I (unsuccessfully) attempted to quell any fears fans may have had around Delia using the new share issue to strengthen rather than relinquish her control of our club. In it, I made reference to the good folk of the Canaries Trust and their recent interview with Tom Smith.
While the interview was exclusively for Trust members, they have kindly permitted MFW access to the part of the interview where Tom discusses the Board’s relationship with Mark Attanasio.
He was not at liberty to directly tell us who would be taking ownership of the new share issue, but I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions.
So, without further ado and, of course, with thanks to our friends from the Trust…
Q: We must, of course, talk about investment and potential change. It seems pretty clear that the relationship with Mark Attanasio is progressing.
TS: Yes, absolutely. It has been fantastic that Mark and his team have come on board. I have always said that any good football club should always be looking for opportunities to change, invest in itself, develop, and learn new things, and that’s precisely what Mark’s arrival has heralded – as well as a financial investment that has involved him taking a share of the Club.
Other aspects of Mark’s relationship with the Club are perhaps less visible, but equally as valuable. So quite a number of our team here have already been out to Milwaukee to meet with their counterparts, see what we can learn from that sport and the development that has taken place there, part of that continuous drive to learn new things, to grow, to develop, to innovate. We look forward to that partnership continuing with Mark.
Q: You gave an interview in the matchday programme a few years ago when you were talking about future developments and you said “We need to look at everything, all options that could help the Club succeed in the future, but not at the expense of our identity, the things that make us special, our soul”. Is Mark Attanasio ticking some of those boxes for you – does he get it?
TS: I think what’s been absolutely fantastic about Mark since he joined is how much he has been willing to, and really keen to, listen and learn and understand what Norwich City is: who we are, what the culture is, who the people are, a genuinely open-minded approach to the introduction.
He is really keen to take that understanding to the next level. I think if you look at what Mark has built at The Brewers in Milwaukee, there are so many similarities with Norwich, particularly around the connection to the community, that I think will only mean that Mark is really well attuned to the sort of Club that we feel we are.
Q: This new investment and change in ownership structure obviously have some personal impacts for you. How do you feel about it?
TS: I have always said that my involvement in Norwich City has only ever really been for two reasons. The first is to do whatever I can to support Delia and Michael, who have been such wonderful custodians of this football club and who are obviously people who are very dear to me. And the second is that I absolutely adore this football club and I want to do anything I can to help it grow and develop. They are my only two motivations in my role here and will continue to be so.
Thanks again to the Trust for allowing us to repost this extract.
While Tom doesn’t explicitly say the Attanasios are here for the long haul, even an old cynic like me would find it difficult to read anything too negative into those words.
Gary Field says
Just for context, the interview with Tom actually happened less than two weeks after the General Meeting, so it was probably more a case of nothing to report (at that stage).
Everyone, myself included, thought that the two week time period to allot the shares meant that it was effectively a done deal. With the benefit of hindsight, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Personally, I’m not unduly concerned about the delay. There doesn’t seem anything inherently suspicious about the delay, to me at least, and I just suspect that it’s taking far longer than expected, presumably down to the regulatory approval referred to in the Club’s subsequent announcement.
Don Harold says
Among the things we don’t know (because the information the club gives the fans at the moment is the square root of zero) is what the Attanasios and Delia and Michael want from each other and what type of future they see for the club. Are we going to continue the unfortunately impossible but worthy attempt to be self-sustaining? Are we going to be a money ball, statistics based club like I’m told the Brewers are? Are the Attanasios going to bung a load of money our way?
I’m no expert on high end boardroom negotiations (but I know a few people who are), but it seems to me that both parties are negotiating from a position of strength. Delia and Michael will still have great personal wealth if they never receive another penny for the rest of their lives and the have got control of the club. The Annatasios have money, a shareholding that may (or may not) soon increase and they still own the Brewers. As I see it, both parties, therefore, have wherewithal to walk away from negotiations any time they choose.
Perhaps there are good reasons why we have heard nothing since the confirmation of the new share issue, but I (and am sure plenty of others), would simply like to know what the ownership model and the blueprint for the future is.
Cracked it this time Gary I don’t regard TS as being from the same stable as Boris when it comes to stating the ‘truth’.
We can look forward to regime change very soon. I’d like to see a revamp on how the club is run. There’s been much disquiet among many employees since 2020, probably the pandemic was our ‘iceberg’ as it has been for so many businesses, families and individuals.
Delia is driven and incredible, she’s around the club, involved, getting staff to do things her way, that has to stop. City will enter The Attanasios era let’s hope it’s not a Greek tragedy
I see there being two options.:
1. The Attanasios are not willing to purchase all available shares
2. The Smiths are not willing to sell their shares
If #1 is true, why are we creating new shares? And why have they continued to hoover up smaller share holdings?
If #2 is true, then I’m left shaking my head. We have near billionaire who is passionate about sports, has experience in running a successful professional sports team (and is generally liked by the fans), ready to purchase. An expedited sale would be prudent based on our current financial situation. Why are the Smiths standing in the way?
Of course, there is a possibility that #1 and #2 are both true, but that still leads to the question, why more shares?
That would apply if there were some extraordinary delay, or if the window for the shares to be adopted was closed.
Neither is true. The delay in announcing who’s taken up the new share issue is nothing unusual or sinister.
We know you’d prefer it to be sinister, but it isn’t.
My comment is broader than a simple deadline on a share issue. It is more at the heart of why are we issuing new shares.
What, at this time, is stopping Delia from selling up? We have a prolonged drawn out saga of selling to the Attanasios. It does not appear to be due to the Attanasios being disinterested in purchasing the club. Others have sold their shares to them.
If the new shares are to be purchased in tandem with the Smith’s, fine. If they continue to hold onto their shares while we have an investor waiting, one who continues to grow their stake based upon the board’s actions, questions should be asked about what’s holding the Smith’s back.
Other than from cynics and conspiracy theorists, here’s no suggestion that Michael & Delia or the Attanasios are being reluctant – as I think Tom’s comments, and the post from Gary Field above, confirm.
What’s clear is that both sides care about the stewardship and values of the Club, and are taking things step-by-step to make sure the relationship is right.
Personally I’ve no problem with that. Far preferable to the kind of quick deal that gets repented at leisure. We’ve seen enough of those in football.
If nothing changes and matters plod on I can see City playing in front of 15,000, which may force our owners hand.
Perhaps that is what it will take.
All sounds quite amicable – who really knows until the headlines break, but I can imagine a scenario where Delia and Michael decide to step back and enjoy a well-deserved retirement from running the club while reducing their financial involvement.
Attanasio could then increase his holding, with Smith Junior and an allocated Attanasio accolyte running day-to-day NCFC business. There are worse ways of managing the club, although, as we all know by now, self-funding can only be regarded as a temporary club management model and for long-term success regular large cash injections are the only things which would offer long term, stable Premiership occupation and possibly European competitions for the club.
Bernard Owen says
Hey guys, I’ve got this bridge I’d like to sell to you…….
Is it a Bailey Bridge?
“Any Old Iron! Bring Out Yer Scrap Metal Here” !!
Wanstead Canary says
What I am puzzled by is this continuing refernce to small shareholdings being bought up by the Attanasios. How many MFW readers (and writers) own a small number of shares in the Club? I am certainly one of those who tried to help the Club in the Noughties when the ITV Digital collapse put so many clubs in peril. My shareholding can definitely be called small as it is the sum total of 60 shares which I have held since then. How come that I have not received any approach to sell these? Not that I would be interested as they symbolise my support for the club.
Have any of you had an approach?
Gary Field says
There’s no such approaches being made at the moment. You’re not missing out on anything.
martin penney says
One night a few years ago now Mrs P held up an old empty A4 cerfificate frame and said she wanted to do a miniature framed collage and might she have said frame.
I said *sure* and when asked why it had been hanging around the front room for ages I said it was originally to frame a share entitlement form from NCFC that would surely look good on the wall alongside a particularly good couple of memboribilia items already in situ, ie Iwan and DH6 celebrating a goal and Dean Ashton letting fly on the volley at Carrow Road.
*Why didn’t you put it on the wall then, you lazy balalaika* she asked.
I showed her the certificate which consisted of a piece of the only grade of copy paper lower than Izal available and a few words thankful for my support. I was so underwhelmed I couldn’t be bothered to bin it, let alone frame it.
At a point not longthereafter I met a couple of CT meCanaries Trust were introduced by a mutual friend and I painless donated them via then-Secretary Mike Reynolds. For all us individuals like me, pulling together under the auspices of a single Club-recognised trust at least guarantees my voice gets heard – I think the Trust possesses around 65% of all shares as we speak, and that’s better than nothing by a long way.
The Trust has turned out to be full of people like myself who didn’t realise how many of their matchday mates are members – I’ve only been asked a few times in over five years now and I like I said elsewhere you get out what you put in.
Any very good organisation should be like that, NCFC had the right attitude once only to have lost it in a very annoying and childish manner.
martin penney says
Sorry to CT members everywhere: I meant the Trust possesses around 6POINT5% of all shares as we speak 🙂
One-time away season-ticket holder says
Thanks for this, Stewart and Gary.
“So quite a number of our team here have already been out to Milwaukee to meet with their counterparts, see what we can learn from that sport and the development that has taken place there, part of that continuous drive to learn new things, to grow, to develop, to innovate.”
I suspect this must have been something of a rude awakening to learn how proper sporting organisations could be run. NCFC’s customer-facing affairs are largely abysmal now and the website and information streams are shockingly poor, and appear to be targeted at 12-year-olds. Perhaps Tom Smith might like to consider instigating some improvements without the involvement of Team Attanasio – at the moment the club’s only concern with most supporters is shifting season tickets.