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Foulger to pledge more cash for Canaries

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:24 06 July 2010

Michael Foulger says he is prepared to dip into his pockets again to fund Bryan Gunn's transfer kitty after writing a cheque for more than £350,000 yesterday as part of the season ticket rebate scheme.

Michael Foulger says he is prepared to dip into his pockets again to fund Bryan Gunn's transfer kitty after writing a cheque for more than £350,000 yesterday as part of the season ticket rebate scheme.

The Canaries director had pledged to match pound for pound the money not claimed by season ticket holders to help Gunn rebuild his team.

The final ratio of rebates claimed was around one-in-three, which perhaps signals a lack of confidence in the club, but it means more than £700,000 has now been made available to the manager - and Foulger says there could be more to come.

Foulger, who runs Attleborough-based Banham Poultry which this week forecast a turnover of more than £85m this year, refused to divulge figures, but said he is actively seeking financial support from the Norfolk business community and is also ready to dip into his personal fortune again to fund Gunn's plans.

“What I will try and do is support Bryan in every way I can. I won't talk figures because that's not helpful,” he said. “I am still looking to get business people to buy some preference shares - we are trying to do everything we can.

“Yes, I will be helping Bryan. As I have always tried to do, I will do everything I can to make sure we have a competitive squad.

“I am still looking to get business people to buy some preference shares - we are trying to do everything we can. I am confident I will find support. You know what Norfolk people are like, they are good people - the difficulty is turning pledges into hard cash. “We're continuing to look for further investment, and although we know it's difficult for people to commit I'm sure there will be something there - I shall continue to support wherever I can.”

Two out of three City season ticket holders kept their money firmly in their pockets - arguably the disillusionment with the football club and the current economic crisis both persuasive arguments against handing back up to £70.

Foulger has been inundated with letters from supporters since his pound for pound pledge - some backing him, others explaining why they felt unable to hand over their cash.

Those letters won't go to waste, with Foulger insisting that all critical points will be examined and acted upon.

“I know from everything I have heard and read there are people who don't agree with some things that have happened or some things we have done,” he said. “As a result of this I got lots and lots of letters. Some explained why they would be claiming and everything will be taken on board and we will learn - and we will take steps to improve things.”

Foulger admitted the timing of the request to fans was unfortunate.

“I'm happy with the result,” he said. “Some people were obviously not happy with last season and we expected that.

“Some people took the money I am sure because of the financial climate - we realise that they feel the money could be better spent - you have to be realistic about the economics.

“All of the supporters who have signed up for season tickets next year have made a financial commitment to their football club, whether they chose to claim their rebate or not, and their loyalty is to be applauded.”

Foulger signed his cheque yesterday and Gunn will have it in his kitty by the end of the month as he seeks to add to a squad that has already been strengthened by the signings of Matthew Gill, Owain Tudur Jones and Michael Nelson.

“The three players we have already signed are part of the budgeted sum we already had in mind,” said Foulger.

“The fixtures are out, the Royal Norfolk Show is next week and the players are back - in three weeks' time we've got the first friendly, so we can finally start to look forward.”

City's chief executive David McNally said: “I'm staggered at the fantastic support we've had from Norwich City supporters.

“To get almost 19,000 season ticket holders following such a disappointing end to the last campaign is just incredible, so all supporters must be really thanked for their on-going commitment in difficult economic times.

“Clearly we benefit from those supporters who have not claimed their rebate, and we're really thankful for their support as we are with Michael Foulger's on-going commitment.

“We are absolutely focussed on one thing - trying to give Bryan Gunn the best opportunity to take this club forward, and to put us in a position where we are very competitive next season. We're doing everything we can to raise every extra penny, every extra pound, to help the first team squad.

“We're looking at every opportunity and every avenue we can go down to get some extra cash to make the pot of money Bryan has as big as possible. This is the first significant step in that direction, and we've been very clear throughout that we're very grateful to receive anything from supporters at this stage.

“There is a Premier League infrastructure here in terms of the ground and facilities. Clearly, we're facing some disappointing times in terms of where we find ourselves playing next season and we have to do something about that.

“But we've got good people here who can help get us back to the level we need to be at - it's going to be tough, but provided we're all together and going in the same direction then we can do it. Bryan will be given every support in order to put on to the pitch a winning and competitive team next year.”

The nuts and bolts of yesterday's announcement are that the supporters who did not claim their rebate have handed over a total of £359,304 - with Foulger's contribution taking that to £718,608.

Of the 18,481 season ticket holders signed up for next season, 11,707 claimed their rebates while 6,774 decided not to - out of a total rebate possibility of £1,076,907 season ticket holders claimed back £717,603.

Season ticket holders who have claimed their rebate will start receiving their money from August - with those who have purchased their tickets in full receiving cheques for the rebate amount while direct debits will be amended from August to February.

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