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EXCLUSIVE: Canaries' debts soar to £23m

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:48 06 July 2010

Michael Bailey

Norwich City is today expected to reveal its debts have risen to the record level of £23m, the EDP understands.

The club will also announce alongside the 22pc rise in net debt from last season that it made a loss of £5m - another record.

Norwich City is today expected to reveal its debts have risen to the record level of £23m, the EDP understands.

The club will also announce alongside the 22pc rise in net debt from last season that it made a loss of £5m - another record.

And the EDP can reveal one of the main reasons behind last season's heavy loss is the club's loan player policy primarily adopted by former City boss Glenn Roeder.

The figures, which run from June 1, 2008 to May 31 last year cover a torrid time in the Canaries' history, with its Championship campaign ending in relegation, while chief executive Neil Doncaster and chairman Roger Munby resigned before the summer.

Against that background, Norwich's losses almost doubled from a £2.77m deficit the previous season, while the club's debt has increased from the 2007-08 figure of £18.8m.

Full details are expected to be released by the club at a press conference scheduled for this afternoon with new chief executive and chairman, David McNally and Alan Bowkett respectively, set to reveal their plans to tackle the increased debt burden and prevent further losses in future.

The published accounts are set to hit shareholders' letterboxes from Saturday.

The Canaries loaned 18 players last season, with the club paying six-figure signing-on fees and wages without purchasing any players that the club could consider a sellable asset.

A season of struggles on the pitch - leading to relegation - also hit the club's balance sheet, including falls in ticket sales, demands for merchandise and other parts of the business.

Last season's wage bill is believed to be similar to the £8.5m figure for 2007-08, while the cost of sacking manager Glenn Roeder and his first team coach, Paul Stephenson, at the start of the year also contributed to the Canaries' heavy loss - although the exact figure will not be revealed in the official accounts.

Norwich's turnover fell by £1m, to £18m, leaving it below the club's outstanding debt; something the City board are believed to be keen to rectify.

But despite the club's latest financial hit, the EDP understands Carrow Road's corridors of power are “more comfortable with things now than at the start of the season”.

Ian Fitch, partner at Norwich chartered accountants firm Larking Gowen, said: “On the numbers reported, the loss of around £5m has been financed by increasing debt and long term, like any business and a football club should be no different, this is not healthy.

“I am sure there are plans in place and steps have already been taken to improve matters, as you must remember these figures are a snap shot of the club at May 31, 2009. We are now in 2010 and the football club is in League One.”

The Canaries slipped into the third tier of English football for the first time in nearly 50 years after relegation in May under the Roeder's replacement Bryan Gunn, who was recruited alongside his assistant, Ian Butterworth, and first team coach Ian Crook at the start of 2009.

Norwich have been on the lookout for investment into the club in recent seasons, but have little to show from their search to help ease the debt burden.

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