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A look back on the Norwich City accounts as chief executive David McNally states Premier League survival “is the only thing that matters”

Published: October 22, 2012 | 8:14 am
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As Norwich City Football Club releases its annual financial report, reporter David Freezer casts his eye over what the facts and figures mean to Canaries supporters.

Norwich City Football Club has stared into the financial abyss at least twice in the past 20 years, but the club’s board now hope they are less than a year away from freeing the club of all its external debt.

In a landmark statement of intent, Canaries chairman Alan Bowkett said last week: “I’m not going to fall into the trap that previous chairmen did of underestimating the power of the Premier League and being there.

“So we will be there next year.”

It is a bold statement to make as the Canaries are yet to win in their first seven Premier League fixtures of this season.

Bowkett and the club’s chief executive David McNally demonstrated a steely resolve at Carrow Road on Friday, as the club’s annual financial report was revealed to the media.

When the pair joined the board just over three years ago, following City’s relegation to the third tier of English football, League One, the club had debt in the region of £23m hanging around its neck.

Figures up to May of this year show that the successive promotions that fired the Canaries to the riches of the Premier League have now brought that debt down a further £5m, from £16.6m down to £11.3m.

But the Carrow Road board now have their eyes fixed on going one step further.

By the end of the current 2012-13 Premier League season they intend to have wiped another £10m from the club’s debt, which would leave the club free of external debt other than for “working capital requirements”.

Mr Bowkett emphasised that success on the pitch was the key, as survival in the Premier League is crucial to their ambition.

He said: “We are very pleased with these sets of results because it is just another step for us to take to achieve our objective to become a self-sustaining, established Premier League club.

“Once we have paid off all our debt, we run our football club as a mutual co-operative, all excess cash then, which used to pay down debt, can go into our football budget.

“We are planning to be in the Premier League next year because the finances and the management of the club has gone better than we planned and that’s thanks to all employees; management and football.”

The report reveals that in the 2011-12 financial year the club made its highest ever after-tax profit of £13.5m, compared to a loss of £3.9m the previous year and a loss of £5.8m the year before that.

Overall the club’s revenue rocketed by over £50m to £74.3m, up from 23.1m. This is largely due to receiving a huge £48.5m in broadcast money in the Premier League, up from just £5.5m when in the Championship.

Mr McNally said the club’s “football budget” is now four times bigger than when City were in League One while Mr Bowkett placed an exciting carrot on the end the stick for the club’s supporters.

The chairman said that if the plan should prove successful and all external debt is paid off this season, then he expects the club’s football expenditure to rise by a further 25pc.

The revelations almost seemed to be delivered as a rallying call to the club’s staff, players and supporters – to make sure that Premier League safety is secured.

Mr McNally said: “Seven games into the season and working with a manager who has been here such a short time, we are just aware that most of the season is ahead of us, not behind us.

“Yes of course we need to do better in the next 31 games than we have in the previous seven, of that we are absolutely aware, and that is what we are focused on.

“We are focused on trying to improve our football fortunes and staying in the Premier League, that’s the only thing that matters.

“We hope that the supporters are pleased with the financial state of the business but to supporters it’s all about success on the football field and we need to deliver on the football field this season.

“I can assure the supporters that our focus is to remain in the Premier League. That is the only focus that we have and that is the only thing that we are concentrating on 24/7.”

The importance of the club’s Premier League survival this season is emphasised even more by the further floods of riches awaiting the 20 top-flight clubs next season.

That is because the Premier League’s new TV broadcast rights contract begins, which is worth £3bn over three seasons, a massive 71pc increase on the last deal.

eveningnews24.co.uk

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