Winning football matches is ultimately what keeps the fans happy, so what follows is perhaps a silly proposition.
But let’s start with the age-old principle of ‘we are all in this together’.
From a Norwich City perspective, a strong case in point is what happened back in 2002 – when we narrowly failed in the promotion play-offs and then faced a crisis caused by the collapse of ITV Digital. Many City fans, including myself, responded to the Club’s new share issue.
Back then, one of the Club’s main off-field aims, alongside the share issue, was to get more backsides on seats in Carrow Road, Ironically, today, the current Board seems to be attempting the opposite.
One question that must be asked right now, is what a fair price is for watching Championship football. Or, for that matter, just watching your Club whatever division they are in. Or, indeed, just attending a game as a neutral football enthusiast.
Five years or so ago the Football Supporters Association was campaigning for £20 being a standard adult price for away fans. And that still seems fair enough.
For the cup games against Bristol Rovers and tonight’s league game at Hull, that benchmark has been overachieved with some tickets at £10, but compare that with the cheapest season ticket at Carrow Road, which works out at almost £25 a game with rumours of a potential increase.
In addition, the concessions on offer at Carrow Road are less generous than elsewhere. On average the cost of watching football at Norwich City could be as much as 50 percent higher per spectator than at, say, Hull or Swansea.
Does the socio-economic status of Norfolk justify that gap?
One of the huge challenges for clubs such as ours is how TV monies dwarf gate income when in the Premier League. Then again, that equation is even more challenging for the three clubs promoted last season plus Brentford and Bournemouth.
But however challenging that is, it cannot justify charging supporters more when coming back down to earth, aka the Championship. The simple fact is the Club must do its utmost to always control costs or modify the temptation to overspend when in the Premier League.
It certainly didn’t do that well last time (2021-22) with a wage bill of £118 million – still very modest overall by Premier League standards – but still huge relative to Brentford (£68 million), Watford (£77 million) and Burnley (£93 million).
Another key issue is how, when paying huge rewards to footballers, the clubs determine how to pay non-football staff. After all, for example, the physiotherapist still undertakes essentially the same job, so to what extent should they and the backroom staff benefit from the higher footballing status?
Twenty or so years ago the Club’s Associate Directors Group recognised the issues in this context by sponsoring an annual award for the Club’s unsung backroom staff.
It’s interesting to note in comparison, that now we see the Club’s Executive Director on a salary four times or so higher than the CEO of 20 years ago, while the ITV Digital bail-out shareholders haven’t even been offered their money back, and the original concept of shareholding representing owning part of the football club has been marginalised.
The simple facts are that our majority owners simply haven’t managed the balance between staff and supporters in the manner they did in their early years when we had the likes of Roger Munby as Chairman. Neither have they maintained the financial discipline that Allan Bowkett brought to the equation.
If they want to support a legacy of a 20 percent minority fan ownership before handing over to the Norfolk Group, they need to put a new protocol with fans in place to achieve it. Furthermore, fans who are not interested in representation in this way need a fair match-day pricing protocol.
Winning football is of paramount importance, but then again keeping the fans onside is also a vital ingredient for plundering those last-minute goals as we did in 2018-19.
Where are we now?
Kevin is an associate director of Norwich City FC – this is his personal opinion.