Comparison and contrast

There were some similarities between the two teams when Birmingham City played Norwich City on Saturday. None of the attacking players made good use of the few chances that came and both defences were hard to break down. The resulting no-score draw was not the most entertaining of games but there were some positives. Jonathan Spector fitted into the defence very well and, although Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome looked dangerous at times, they didn’t score against us as former players often seem to do.

Off the pitch, the ownership situation at the two Cities couldn’t be more different.  Norwich is owned by people who have a connection with the club.  The joint majority shareholders, Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones, attend games.  If you look at the list of key people on the Canaries website, you will see that several of the directors, including Stephen Fry, are described as fans of the club.

The important difference between the people who run Norwich and those who run Birmingham is not that the former are British and the latter are Chinese; it is not a matter of nationality.  The vital factor is connection with the club and concern for its long term future.  I doubt that the Norwich fans who control that club would have been interested in being involved with any other football clubs. Carson Yeung just wanted to buy a football club; he didn’t have any previous association with Birmingham City.  If and when new owners arrive at the club, we shouldn’t judge them according to their nationality but by their motivation.  I believe the ideal owners would be people with a connection to the club and/or the city, who care about the club’s long-term future rather than how much money can be made.  Unfortunately, both British owners and foreign owners sometimes care more about their own interests than what is best for their clubs.

3 thoughts on “Comparison and contrast

  1. Azores Canary

    A very interesting article. I believe you are quite right in assuming it would be better for a club’s owners to also be supporters. However, Delia, Michael and Stephen (and others) all know how difficult it is to support a modern football club with their own money. Whilst they may have a few millions to put into the club, this is not in itself enough to compete at the very highest level. Multi-Billionaire tycoons are what is really needed to do that. The situation at geographically isolated Norwich is that it is a passionately supported club by the board and fans alike, which does its best to compete on limited resources. Furthermore, the board are determined to run it as a business – not to make a pot of money, but simply not to end up bankrupt like so many larger clubs. The frustration for the Norwich fans is that we are an ‘almost’ club. We ‘almost’ consolidated as a Premiership club. We ‘almost’ have a squad capable of bouncing straight back into the Prem. We ‘almost’ brought on board the extra millions of Tony Fernandes (he was shown the door by the fanatically possessive Delia, so he opted for QPR). So, without a billionaire benefactor, Norwich will continue to frustrate their ambitious, optimistic supporters. Yes, we’ll be back in the Prem again soon, if not this season, but once there it will be a hard slog to avoid relegation again, and that situation will not change. There are many ‘sleeping giants’ that are ripe for snapping up cheaply by a billionaire egoist (Leeds, Forest, Sheffields, etc) keen to make his mark in the EPL. Sadly, Norwich is not one of them. We will continue to bounce up and down the pecking order. That said, given a choice between Delia and Abramavich, I would take the former any day. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly entertaining, which is what it’s all about really!! Good luck with getting your ownership issues sorted and I would love to see you swap league places with Vila in the not too distant future!

    1. Puddleglum Post author

      If you have not already read it you should read ‘Richer than God’ by David Conn. His club, Manchester City, has all the money it needs but Conn says he feels less connected to his club now than he used to.

    2. Blueshark


      a really thoughtful reply. I have to say I have a soft spot for The Canaries (holidays on the Broads as kids. Also we once attended an NCFC open day and my kids were entertained by Goss and Crook who could not have been nicer guys). Also that Cardiff Play Off final in 2004 was the friendliest ‘big game’ atmosphere I can ever remember.

      Good luck to you for the rest of the season.

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