Don’t expect that Norwich City will be stumping up big transfer fees this summer, despite their return to the Premier League – that’s the message from the Canaries’ Sporting Director, Stuart Webber as reported here by Sky Sports.
Promotion to the Premier League is worth an estimated £150m and that doesn’t include parachute payments, should a club get relegated. The figure is difficult to be exact on because of the variables involved in where a team finishes and how often it is chosen for TV coverage.
In the 2017/18 season, West Brom finished bottom of the league and earned a total of £94.7m. Every club got £80.4m and then there is the extra TV income which started at a guaranteed £12.3m and then there’s extra prize money for having over ten matches chosen for broadcast plus more money depending on the club’s finishing position.
The bottom line though, is that the finance on offer to Premier League clubs is way in excess of those in the Championship which will be lucky to see anymore than around £7-9m total, depending on how many matches are chosen for TV broadcast.
Speaking to the media at Carrow Road on Thursday lunchtime, Webber explained that Norwich are likely to go into their return to the Premier League with one of, if not, the smallest budget(s).
“We should be favourites to go down because we’ll have the lowest budget and we’ll have the lowest transfer funds available.
“It’ll be low, probably one of the lowest ever spent in the competition. I don’t want to put a figure on it but it’ll be low.”
Webber explained that promotion will enable the club to pay for the modernisation of the Colney Training facility, as well as to balance the books from some mistakes made during the Canaries’ last foray into the top flight.
“It’s huge for a club like this, one that’s self-funded. Fundamentally, you live by Premier League revenue or having to sell players.
“To get to the Premier League and not have to sell players is a nice place for us. Now we need to make some smart recruitment and retention decisions to try to overachieve again.”
In the past, these sorts of comments from say, Neil Doncaster, David McNally or god forbid, Jez Moxey would’ve made me very uneasy. However, the way that the club have gone about finding and bringing exceptional players to the club, like Emi Buendia, Christoph Zimmermann and Teemu Pukki for next to nothing and in Pukki’s case, exactly nothing, means that I don’t feel worried at all.
That probably sounds a bit odd if you’re reading this and you’re not a Norwich fan but if you are a member of the Canary Nation, then you may well be quite at ease, like me.
I’m not naïve enough to think that finding such players for a song is easy but as Webber has said here and on numerous previous occasions, “smart recruitment and retention decisions” will be key this summer.
We already have one new player in the building that very few of us have actually seen play, Philip Heise. Heise is a left back/wing back that was a target for the summer transfer window but became available in January. He is yet to play for the first team, mostly due to the home grown players rule keeping him on the side lines, something that won’t be an issue in the Premier League.
“We’ll be looking to recruit smaller numbers, maybe three, four or five – it won’t be seven, eight, nine, 10,” he added.
“British players are more expensive in terms of transfer fees and wages and we can’t afford some of them.
“There’s some players we’d love to take even from the Championship but the transfer fees mean we can’t go anywhere near them. It means we have to look a bit further afield.”
This means that the current squad are going to be given their chance to compete in the top flight, something that Fulham’s promotion winning side of last season were denied as the Cottagers decided that the way to go was to spend £100m on new players – clearly it wasn’t and isn’t the best idea to throw a load of new players together and expect them to gel as a team quickly.
If I were in charge at Norwich, I would be thinking and doing the same sorts of things that Webber is talking about. If we are relegated then we need to be able to compete immediately back in the Championship.
I honestly believe that the club’s current set of players should be able to compete and give quite a few sides up there a game as it is. I mean, the likes of Newcastle, Bournemouth, Palace, those sorts of teams. Are they really that far ahead of where we are? I don’t think so.
Time will tell, of course, and we will be linked with lots of names throughout the summer but I can’t see us paying fees of more than £10m for anyone and probably not even that figure.
If you can pick up another Zimbo, Emi or have a Pukki party for low figure fees then I think we’ll be alright. As I say, I know it’s not that easy or everyone would be doing it but our Recruitment Team now have a track record of unearthing gems, let’s see if they can unearth a few more.