Michael Bailey: Are Norwich City really massive? That’s the plan
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It’s hard to remember when I first clocked the tag line ‘We are massive’ – one that seems to be regularly used by Norwich City fans on Twitter.
• There’s an interesting debate to be had on which end of the table City fans should be looking at – it’s certainly good to see the nationals sending praise the way of Norwich and Chris Hughton recently. It may be closer to 40 points required for safety this season rather than QPR’s 37 last term, but the sooner City get that the sooner I’ll start looking up. One thing is clear, there’s a real opportunity to finish high in the Premier League table this season.
• Now the dust has settled on that League Cup exit, I think I can get away with this… To be honest, that was the ‘Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa’ I expected to see at the start of the season. Their performance was more than reminiscent of some of City’s efforts under him. And that should worry their FA Cup third round visitors – a certain Ipswich Town.
• Wes Hoolahan’s new deal is great news of course, but it also continues City’s great run of dealing so well with players’ contracts. The fact they haven’t seen a player leave against their will in so long is the kind of thing Arsenal fans really miss…
I have no recollection of it before relegation to League One, so it seems the epic run through three tiers of English football brought not only wonderful Premier League victories and similarities in form with Barcelona, but also a new declaration to dispel its predecessor of ‘Little old Norwich’.
No doubt City’s support far and wide makes it a bigger club than many outside Norfolk give it credit, but at the same time it may be only now we start to see exactly how massive the Canaries are.
On Monday the club confirmed a new marketing partnership with Front Row, and on the face of it there probably wasn’t much to get the juices of a City fan flowing.
Based stateside in Philadelphia, Front Row has worked with a host of American sport franchises in the past and will have clear goals when it comes to the Canaries – the first big English football club Front Row has signed up with.
Those goals: Making City money and raising the club’s profile.
How? Well that’s the job of Front Row – not mine. But they’ve got an initial three-year contract to give it a go.
And whether it’s selling naming rights to Carrow Road, next summer’s pre-season taking place in Florida or Lady Gaga rocking out in front of 20,000 Norwich fans, it probably won’t be dull.
Of course, the key to all this was included in the joint press release announcing the deal.
“There are few global properties hotter these days than Barclays Premier League football clubs, and we think the Canaries are uniquely primed to take advantage of that platform,” said someone from Front Row, presumably.
The longer you spend in the Premier League, the more you forget how desperate everyone below it is to knock you out and join the club. But the landscape is changing.
Takeovers are no longer the magic ticket to football success many thought they were, and plenty proved true.
With financial fair play filtering in, the key now is revenue – as much of it as possible, and from anywhere you can source it.
Had they been in this position a decade ago, the one thing Norwich City would have been “uniquely primed” for would have been a takeover. In many ways, the deal with Front Row represents the new trend in club advancement.
It’s interesting that in dealing with the likes of NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Front Row has marketed teams guaranteed elite status – never in fear of relegation.
In English football, we all know things are different – but the global reach and impact is just as great as the Green Bay Packers or Miami Heat. And that reach is mindblowing, the opportunities for the lucky 20 Premier League clubs unending.
How those worldly demands and deals work alongside the likes of a Maurice Jones from Constitution Hill or a little Jess Smith in Taverham, their season tickets and community enjoyment of the Canaries, is the balancing act and responsibility of the City board – one I’m sure they are well aware of and take seriously.
Likewise, if Front Row get it right then City could make a real impression on the world’s Premier League fans.
As with anything in football, it always comes down to what happens on the pitch – and in the current scheme of things, making sure it’s a Premier League pitch.
For those at the heart of the club, City will always be massive – the reality outside is that’s only the case if you are in the top 20.
But at least the virtuous circle is in place. And if it comes off, it won’t only be those in Norfolk calling City massive.