03 September 2008

Norwich City for sale

I thought Norwich City had been for sale, with Walt Disney among those interested. Here's the latest report from The Political Economy of Football: "NORWICH CITY UP FOR SALE – 3/9/08 Norwich City has effectively been put up for sale by majority shareholders Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones. Their twelve year relationship with the Canaries looked set to come to an end after fellow directors Andrew and Sharon Turner resigned from the board, leaving City with a £1.5m black hole to fill this year. The Turners, who own financial services business Central Trust, which deals in sub-prime mortgages and is valued at £275m, will not be able to immediately recover £2.5m of interest-free loans to the club, which are on long-term repayment schedules. But they will now not be making good their promise to put in another £1.5m this year. It leaves the East Anglian club with a worrying cash shortfall, which could lead to backroom redundancies and a bid to cut the current £10m wage bill for playing staff. Club chairman Roger Munby said there had been no boardroom bust-up and the Turners' reasons for leaving were private. He emphasised that there was 'absolutely no danger' of the club going into administration. The club said that talks were taking place with two prospective investors, but refused to disclose who they were. Delia and her husband are looking for investors of all sizes, including outright ownership. All eyes will now turn to Peter Cullum, the 57-year old executive chairman of the Towergate Partnership and one of the 40 richest men in the country. The former Norwich City youth player and lifelong Canaries fan offered in the summer to spend £20m on players in return for ownership of the club. The offer was rejected. The board argued that the real cost of buying the club and investing £20m in players would be £56m, a figure that Mr Cullum did not accept. Behind-the-scenes diplomacy by new City sponsors Aviva saw the two sides reopen discussions a few days after the initial offer, but the talks ended almost as soon as they had begun with no agreement. John Tilson, chairman of Norwich City Independent Supporters Association, commented, 'There are fans who are pro Delia, those who think her shelf-life is up and those who think she should have gone a long time ago, but the fans have to stick together in this.'"

Brad Evans