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Bill

From the FT - Norwich City

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A very worthy read that kindly Bill has taken the trouble to laboriously put on here in the certain knowledge that not every reader has access to the Financial Times

https://www.ft.com/content/2334c941-a1ab-48ce-b4fd-6747710c8054

(it is also put up in trust that the self righteous sisters and other po faced pious zealots stick to their 'principles' and refuse to read the article)

otherwise, enjoy 🥰



At just 22, Todd Cantwell already has a head full of memories. A star midfielder at Norwich City, the football club he joined as a local lad more than a decade ago, he has emerged in recent years as one of the English game’s brighter talents. Slouched on a chair at the team’s training ground, Cantwell sits up when asked to name some of his standout moments to date. The recollections flow easily. In September 2019, for example, Norwich City faced Manchester City at their Carrow Road stadium. It should have been a mismatch.

 

A team newly promoted to the Premier League, the world’s richest football competition, against the most expensively assembled side on earth. In the 28th minute, Cantwell watched his teammates complete a slick sequence of passes around those in City shirts. The ball landed at the feet of striker Teemu Pukki, who charged at goal. Cantwell began to run up the pitch. “It was a 50-yard sprint,” he tells me, blue eyes sparkling. “I was just energised by the thought of scoring, and in football that adrenaline takes over. I knew that if I got in his eye line, I knew Teemu would see me . . . to see the ball slide across and see the open net, you dream of stuff like that.” Cantwell scored, then danced in front of thousands of jubilant fans dressed in the team’s yellow and green colours. Norwich City went on to complete a famous 3-2 victory.

 

I ask him to fast-forward to July 2020. Carrow Road had been emptied of supporters because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Few witnessed the team being thrashed 4-0 by West Ham United. It was the latest of many defeats in a gruelling season. Norwich City were relegated to the division below. Cantwell sat alone on the pitch long after the final whistle, frustrated, hurt. “We may not have been expected to stay up, no one here wanted to go down,” he says, quietly. “Everyone wants to play in the best league in the world.”

Todd Cantwell

These flashbacks help explain what makes elite football such a potent spectacle for millions around the world. Over 90 minutes, Norwich City, a side assembled on a shoestring player transfer budget, can beat Manchester City, bankrolled by an oil-rich Gulf state and, at the time, English champions. But over the course of a 38-match season, small miracles are consumed by cold facts. Academic research has shown the amount spent on player salaries is the best indicator of league position. Last season, Norwich City had the second-lowest wage bill in the top tier. I have come to Norwich City to speak with players such as Cantwell, as well as the club’s owners, executives and coaches, to better understand how the sport became a tale of haves versus have-nots. And to ask whether there is anything that can be done to close the gap between the game’s one-percenters and the rest.

 

Never a big club, Norwich City hadn’t even played in the top flight of English football until 50 years ago. But through the 1970s and 1980s they established a seat at the top table, peaking in the early 1990s, when the “Canaries” beat Germany’s most successful club, Bayern Munich, in a famous European upset. Since the turn of the century, however, Norwich have enjoyed five promotions and suffered five relegations between the divisions. Too lean for the big league, too fat for the lower tiers, they are part of a group dismissively referred to as “yo-yo clubs”.

Beating Bayern Munich in the second round of the UEFA Cup in 1993


Manchester City used to be one too, before a 2008 takeover by an Emirati sheikh turned them into regular title winners through spending more than £1bn on players. Takeovers like this have given fans of other clubs hopes of attracting their own sugar daddy, an extravagant billionaire willing to spend whatever it takes to acquire glory. Teams such as Chelsea and Leicester City are among the sides to have been transformed in recent years by the backing of benevolent benefactors. Yet this has helped to create instability at less wealthy clubs like Norwich City, which have had an unfortunate history of overspending on players, all in a forlorn effort to keep up with opponents’ unmatchable financial resources. Can the club do anything to snap the elastic that led it to bounce between the leagues?

 

Over many hours of interviews, I am told of a new blueprint to avoid the club’s boom-and-bust cycles. It is a plan designed around unearthing more talents like Cantwell. The club’s ambition is simple yet strikingly sober: to become strong enough to avoid yet another relegation from the Premier League, should they return. That would allow them to play Manchester City every season, though they would be extremely unlikely to challenge them for the sport’s greatest prizes.

Celebrating a win over Sunderland in the 1985 League Cup final


Is this enough? Many of today’s leading football clubs began as community institutions — Norwich City was formed in 1902 by two schoolmasters — each one as good as the locals who made up their teams. Over decades, the biggest have morphed into multibillion-pound businesses, international workforces and global fanbases. But the majority, like Norwich City, are still followed mainly in the smaller cities and towns in which they are based. Here, supporting a football club is part of a civic identity. The team’s successes — and failure — are a matter of personal esteem. “There’s part of me that just wants the club to go hell for leather, spend loads and win things,” says a consultant who has worked for Norwich City but declined to be named.

 

The assumption here is that winning matches is the driving purpose of football clubs, victories the way it pays back fervent support. “How does football stay relevant to these small communities otherwise?” asks the consultant. “[Norwich City] has a great model and lots of good people, but the question I have is, what’s the purpose? What’s the point of a football club anyway?” Delia Smith is the doyenne of celebrity chefs, a fixture on British television since the 1970s with shows such as One Is Fun! and How to Cheat at Cooking. Despite retiring from the small screen in 2013, Smith, now 79, is still best known to the wider British public as a genial TV personality and cookbook writer, rather than the co-owner of Norwich City alongside her husband, the writer and publisher Michael Wynn-Jones.

 

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that's ok, you will have already read it

...... or not 😜

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1 minute ago, Bill said:

that's ok, you will have already read it

...... or not 😜

Yes i did read it thanks to Vanwink or whoever you believe him to be.

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4 minutes ago, TIL 1010 said:

Yes i did read it thanks to Vanwink or whoever you believe him to be.

good to see that your self righteous views on copy write only relate to me

and not some firm principle

Edited by Bill

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2 minutes ago, Bill said:

good to see that your self righteous views on copy write only relate to me

and not some firm principle

Merely pointing out that the article was already available to discuss on a thread started yesterday that has attracted 23 replies and is still on the front page of the forum.

I call that informative as opposed to being self righteous.

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The self righteous part arises from you being one of the biggest whingers on here about my posting links to games - by claiming some moral high ground

Yet what you have happily read is no different, accessing copywrite material that has not been paid for - as hand crank has merely used the method I posted on here, on how to bypass paywalls. Something you did not feel outraged enough to report.

So I shall leave you to your hypocritical whining, knowing that yet again your comments are about me and not the topic

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3 minutes ago, Bill said:

The self righteous part arises from you being one of the biggest whingers on here about my posting links to games - by claiming some moral high ground

Yet what you have happily read is no different, accessing copywrite material that has not been paid for - as hand crank has merely used the method I posted on here, on how to bypass paywalls. Something you did not feel outraged enough to report.

So I shall leave you to your hypocritical whining, knowing that yet again your comments are about me and not the topic

You really are a tragic individual. As you have now mentioned links to games any particular reason why your threads about links suddenly stopped ? I think it was around the time your messaging facility disappeared.

Have a lovely day.

  • Like 1

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3 hours ago, Bill said:

good to see that your self righteous views on copy write only relate to me

and not some firm principle

It’s copyright by the way ( only in case you’re ever involved in litigation as you wouldn’t want to look silly 😉 )

Edited by ......and Smith must score.
  • Haha 1

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