Shareholders' group demand answers
LEADERS of an influential group of Norwich City shareholders last night urged chairman Roger Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster to resign.As tens of thousands of devoted Canaries' fans faced up to the grim reality of life in English football's third tier, Mr Munby and Mr Doncaster were accused of overseeing the rapid decline of the club.
LEADERS of an influential group of Norwich City shareholders last night urged chairman Roger Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster to resign.
As tens of thousands of devoted Canaries' fans faced up to the grim reality of life in English football's third tier, Mr Munby and Mr Doncaster were accused of overseeing the rapid decline of the club.
Businessmen Nigel Bertram and Alan Bowkett - chairman and vice chairman of the NCFC Associate Directors Group - sent an open letter to the Carrow Road top brass launching a withering attack on the lack of leadership and blaming them for the 'dire' financial state the club is in.
Last night the board issued a detailed statement responding to the letter, though there was no direct reaction from the two men on the calls for them to quit.
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'Rather than react piecemeal to advice and criticism, we now need to thrash out a clear, effective and realistic strategy for getting back to the Championship at the earliest possible opportunity, which demands a proper and diligent debate, including a debate about the manager's position, the player budget which can be made available to the manager, the kinds of players we need to populate the squad, the composition of the board of directors, the ongoing search for wealthy individuals who are prepared to put substantial sums of money into the football club, and many other issues besides,' the statement said.
While another associate director, Rod Tuck, said the two men were speaking as individuals and the associate members had not met to discuss the letter.
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'I'm against a knee jerk reaction,' he said. 'This is not the time for a witch hunt, what the club needs is for everyone to rally round. It's a shock for everybody, but now is the time for calm.'
In the letter the board was criticised for 'dismissing' offers of help from the associate directors group, which has 27 members who all have at least 1000 shares in the club.
The group was influential in helping bring Canaries' legend Darren Huckerby to the club and they calculated the Canaries needed �25m of investment - a similar figure Peter Cullum had said needed ploughing in before talks between him and the club broke down last year.
Mr Bertram and Mr Bowkett wrote to Mr Munby: 'Under your chairmanship and Neil Doncaster's executive leadership the quality of our product has deteriorated every year since 2004, losses have continued to mount and debt piled up.
'The only honourable course open to you both is to resign forthwith without compensation, the board to search for a new chief executive, appoint a new chairman from the local business community and work with the current majority shareholders (Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones) to get us out of this mess.'
The City board will meet tomorrow for the first time since relegation was confirmed on Sunday.
Mr Munby, Mr Doncaster and manager Bryan Gunn all got a rough ride from fans during a stormy supporters' forum after yesterday's Carrow Road open day.
While Mrs Smith and Mr Wynn Jones said after Sunday's 4-2 final day defeat at Charlton they were prepared to make way for new investment if it could be found.
The letter from Mr Bertram and Mr Bowkett was sent out last night and Mr Bertram said it had not been a knee-jerk reaction to relegation.
He said 'The letter was written last week and there were two versions. Either way - whether the club was relegated or not - something has to change. It is just not working. We need a fresh start and some sort of leadership.'
'We have slipped down and down in the last five years and it is so obvious to everyone.'
He said the club had got �23m when it went into the Premiership plus two �6m parachute payments following relegation to the Championship.
Mr Bertram said the club had also received the proceeds from the transfers of players such as Dean Ashton, Robert Green, Robert Earnshaw and Dickson Etuhu.
'We get 25,000 crowds week in and week out and we have got to be the envy of those in the Championsip. Forget about big money coming in - we had big money coming in. Where has it gone?'
He said the board had not given answers to the group about the financial situation.
Mr Bertram - a Norwich City fan for 50 years - was a director of the family Bertram Books business and now lives and farms in Mid Norfolk.
Mr Bowker is chairman of Redrow Plc, a private equity investor since the late 1980s and was previously chief executive of Boulton and Paul in Norwich.
Anger and frustration is growing among grassroots fans and a crowd of about 35 held a mini-protest outside Carrow Road at yesterday's club open day.
John Tilson, chairman of the Norwich City Independent Supporters Association, who was not involved in the protest, echoed the clearout calls.
'Bryan Gunn stepped up to the plate, but it isn't working for him. Everybody loves Bryan Gunn, but he isn't up to the job,' he said. 'We have got a chief executive who is paid nearly four grand a week to make these decisions, but he has failed every time. When you have a chief executive at Marks and Spencer who fails, he is replaced. He should go.'