After being informed that MFW was becoming little more than a sea of #NCFC angst, I turned to Twitter to find some voices of a more positive hue.
Luckily for some, my cry for help was heeded, and in the next few days, there will be some articles to offer a more optimistic view of all things Norwich City.
The first hand in the air was that of Matt Barrett.
All yours, mate.
I’m generally a positive-minded supporter of the Canaries from the Fine City and this season has, of course, tested that.
However, I have hope and positivity over the good state of limbo that the club is in.
Whilst I am not clever enough to play 4D chess, I can see the pieces lining up ready to be put into place for a forward-thinking, next stage in our club’s history.
A recent fan interview with the Attanasios included calls from them to “be patient” alongside declarations to be more involved and to invest in infrastructure.
Their track record with the Brewers shows that this is their pattern, so while the impending cash injection will not be squandered on a pair of £25m strikers, the infrastructure improvements will hopefully generate more annual commercial income to strengthen the playing squad season on season.
So yes, the incoming funds are a positive because the facilities in the City Stand and Snake Pit will be vastly improved and the sustainable money that the Sporting Director has to spend, will be more than the current level.
In that same interview, Mark Attanasio stated that Stuart Webber and Dean Smith have report cards, which means that David Wagner will have one too. But, more importantly, Webber has someone holding his decisions to account.
That has to be positive.
So Webber and, in turn, Wagner have the backing of the board for now but they will know they have to get it right this summer. They also know they have little to no funds with which to effect big change.
I believe that some people know how to spend based on a fixed budget but not so much with a more fluid one. For me, Messers Webber and Wagner have proven that they are in that category.
So while I am prepared to back them, I know that if they get it as badly wrong as they have individually and collectively in the four transfer windows since May 2022 – when Olly Skipp left, Emi Buendia forced his own departure and eye-watering amounts were spent on the wrong players – they will both be getting their P45s.
That’s another positive. They either get it right or they go.
Personally, I can’t see Webber and Wagner turning the squad around to reflect Zoe Ward’s notion of entertaining football played by youth AND getting automatic promotion, so we will have to manage our expectations of success on the pitch.
But when we come out of this limbo, we’ll hopefully have a youthful, hungry playing squad in a setup that is designed to find and develop the best young talent playing in a ground fit for the era of progression.
The state of limbo is because of the impending sale to the Attanasios and progress cannot begin until that is resolved.
As I understand it, the preferential shares are only being bought by one person, and those shares will take Mark Attanasio to enough of a total shareholding in order to force him to offer the same value per share to all other shareholders for their shares.
Of course, they do not have to accept the offer (I am sure the Canaries Trust and several single shareowners will not sell) but our current majority shareholders will, and that’s where the delay is.
This great club’s value is drastically different depending on which league it is in, so agreeing on a price that allows Mark Attanasio to put the level of money required while giving Delia and Michael the valuation they want, and while not overpaying for the asset, is a tricky balance to strike.
I wondered whether this might be a “happy clapper” article, offering blind optimism rather than an evidenced-based rationale for a less pessimistic view.
My concern was unfounded. It’s a solid addition to the debate.
There are reasons to think Webber and Wagner might pull off the big challenge ahead – as well, naturally, as reasons to doubt it. Of course, as the columnist says, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
Jim Davies says
Well done Stewart! At last someone who uses the “pudding “ quote correctly!!!
I do wish people would stop using the term “happy clapper”. It is often used lazily to denigrate the ideas of anyone that shows a spark of optimism, positivity or gratitude. I appreciate that, in this case, you have actually listened to the opinion and you have put it in quotation marks to distance yourself from it, but I just wish it could be dropped altogether. I appreciate we have had turmoil recently and that recruitment has often been poor, but we still have a lot to be proud of as a club and the last few years, particularly under Daniel Farke, have been one helluva ride. It won’t always go our way. As Daniel himself pointed out, we should make the most of the good times because they don’t always come along in football. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge it when things are going badly, but terms like “happy clapper” are divisive and just add to the sense of toxicity. We already have enough to contend with in terms of outside forces stacked against us, we don’t need to be falling out with, and labelling, each other. Sorry, just needed to get that off my chest. This is a good article. Hopefully the club will follow up with some clearly expressed and transparent plans for the future, and perhaps some honest acknowledgement of the fact mistakes have been made, so we all understand the direction of travel.
Jim Davies says
That’s a very balanced view, and one I’m happy to go along with. I have been a bit concerned with the lack of information about the Attanasios’ position, and wasn’t aware of the interview that Matt mentions, but things seem a bit clearer now, and hopefully there’ll b some news on that front before too long. Coupled with the comment from Wagner the other day that he’s been showing potential signings round the facilities, things seem to be on the move at last.
Roll on next season! OTBC
Well said Matt. At last a glimmer of hope. And light as to why the takeover is taking so long. To be honest, once D&M had decided the “A” team were worthy owners I assumed they would sell at a modest price. Naive I guess!
But where does nephew Tom sit in all this? Wasn’t he going to inherit auntie’s shares? Has he too got to agree to forego his promised inheritance and take a cash payment now instead?
Anyway great to find some NCFC fans looking forward rather than endlessly and pointlessly picking over the entrails of a long dead season.
Tom has few shares, so won’t directly benefit from any sale. I put your questions to him in a recent interview for The Canaries Trust. His answer, for interest:
“I’ve always said that my involvement in Norwich City has only been for two reasons. The first is to do whatever I can to support Delia and Michael, who have been wonderful custodians of this football club and obviously people who are very dear to me. The second is that I absolutely adore this football club and I want to do anything I can to help it grow and develop”.
He also talked enthusiastically about Mark Attanasio (some readers will remember the excerpt we published here).
Are we anticipating Delia and Michael selling their shares to the Americans?
A very possible scenario in due course, if everything continues to proceed satisfactorily. For the moment, Mark Attanasio buying the new shares would put his holding on a par with Delia & Michael’s. So no majority shareholder for a while. There are various ways the Attanasios could take it forward and gradually increase their holding.
Thank you Stewart
martin penney says
I shared the same initial concerns as Stewart but just like him I had nothing to worry about – I’m very much in the glass half empty camp so it’s good to hear other folks’ take on events.
Like Jim I missed this particular interview so when you report Attanasio saying *Webber has someone holding his decisions to account* [which is music to my ears btw], who exactly did he mean gets to read the *report cards*?
Anyway a good read and, as it says in a long-standing Tottenham song, let’s have another one!
Sax yellow says
It does worry me with what happens if Webber and wagner get it wrong? There will be no point to trying to generate more money in the ground with empty seats everywhere. I am struggling to buy into all the season tickets are sold , for weeks I have seen hundreds of empty seats in the river end, five at least in a row. People easy moving into the lower barclay, people ringing up and getting a season ticket easily. If we haven’t improved next March I can see lots not renewing.
With little to no funds available, I really don’t know what can reasonably be expected of Webber and Wagner. They can get loan players or anyone released on a free, but so can every other club. Those players will end up joining the highest bidder. In those instances, if the highest bidder is one of our rivals, how can we expect to improve?
Matt Barrett says
Thank you for the very kind comments.
The interview was on the “TNC” podcast where Mark and Mike Attanasio sat down to talk. They directly say Webber had a “report card”.
I’ve never been a happy clapper and I’m glad that’s recognised in this.
I’ve no idea on Tom, I don’t think he has many shares.
There are more empty seats, and the club probably don’t mind too much if there is a churn of supporters, they have been open that they sold too many season tickets, plus if they want to rebuild the city stand, they need to reseat season ticket holders while they do, so that’s easier if there’s less.
The real problem for City is that Mark Attanasio won’t invest in Norwich City. He may, and I say “may”, invest in some shares but that’s all, and by the way as the Club is not a public company, he is under no obligation to buy or offer to buy any other share holdings in the club. And Webber’s report card would more than likely be marked by Mrs Webber.
Personally I don’t see Attanasio getting further involved and quite possibly looking for ways to extricate himself from his current position.
Why a successful business man would get involved with our club in the first place raises a question as to his motives. Is it buy to sell? In which case I wish he’d get a move on.
Unlike some I don’t care where the money comes from as long as there’s plenty of it.
Hi Dave C,
Mark Attanasio said in the only interview I’ve seen that he was looking at various clubs in the UK and Europe to increase his sporting portfolio and City looked a good fit.
Money doesn’t make you a successful team but it goes along way in the right direction.
Mark Attanasio may not be the billionaire some would want but he has his own investment group with a portfolio of $25billion, so just maybe some of that might drop into the City coffers.
“preferential shares are only being bought by one person”
I wasn’t aware prefernce shares had voting rights