Morality or money? Welcome to the footballing world in which City exist
- Credit: Danielle Booden
At around 4pm on Thursday afternoon, Norwich City's majority shareholder Delia Smith was stood inside the new SoccerBot at Colney marvelling at their new, innovative piece of technology.
An hour later, Newcastle United's multi-million takeover to a Saudi Arabian investment group with a net worth 10 times the wealth available to Manchester City was confirmed by the Premier League.
You could not get a more contrasting situation if you tried. Delia and Michael have overseen an era of self-sustainability in the hope of proving that bucking the trend can still lead to success.
Newcastle are now the richest club in English football. The source of that money has raised plenty of controversies, but it will do little to repair the gaping competitive hole that is continuing to expand every season.
After a week where many have been keen to criticise Norwich for a lack of quality in relation to the rest of the top-flight, perhaps the bigger argument to be made is that those in possession of the most wealth continue to drive up the chasm between the super clubs and the rest.
What does this takeover mean for the football eco-system?
Similarly to Manchester City's change of ownership, it will once again continue to drive up transfer fees, wages and the ever-growing gap in quality between the elite clubs and the other teams occupying the remaining spots in the division.
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That will make it harder for clubs like Norwich City to compete at this level. The idea of a Super League may have been overwhelmingly rejected, but in essence, football is already on a journey where that outcome will be the destination.
It may not be branded a 'Super League'. But it will contain the same teams. Those who come up will struggle to stay there. Some may shatter their financial constraints during just that.
For every positive case to be made about Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, football is heading to an astronomical level of finance. An era where full-blown states can decide to run clubs.
When that level of immorality is evident, you can take the high ground but that doesn't mean success on the pitch. You can make the argument but end up shouting into an abyss.
That conclusion leads football fans to another internal struggle, what really matters? Ethics or trophies?
Norwich have plenty of the former but few of the latter. Where Manchester City lack in the former, they now have plenty of the latter. But does it come at an expense at the core values of what a club is, or what it represents?
The dream of winning championships and sharing a pitch with the European superpowers is a dream for every football fan. The moment it happens to your club is the one where a desire for success can overtake your moral compass. Maybe the purist inside me wants that to happen naturally rather than through wealth.
There are some supporters of Manchester City who miss what their club once was. It wasn't a superpower or a heavyweight in English football, but it did have character and was more relatable.
We have reached a stage where even billionaires in the Premier League aren't enough to bring trophies or success. Norwich are one of the very few clubs at this level not to be owned by one.
But even if they were, would that radically alter their status in English football? The evidence suggests that is unlikely unless it was a billionaire with a value that could rival the likes of Newcastle's new owners.
That level of finance is undoubtedly going to change the course of English football. For every billionaire that arrives, there is the ability for another to come and trump them. That cycle is the one that will forever ensure a story like Leicester City's will never be seen again.
That may be a kind of utopia for 10 top-flight clubs, but what about the rest of the pyramid?
Ultimately, the controversy will disappear and inevitably be replaced with big spending - just as it did when Manchester City were taken over.
In a league that is watched around the globe, the values that are held are broadcast worldwide. If oppression, bigotry and a disregard for human rights are swept under the carpet, then that allows that message to be approved far and wide.
How can football suggest it is supportive of rainbow flags and LGBTQ+ but then allow people with a track record of oppressing gay people own a club? How can it watch its players take the knee and let powerful people in charge of states where inequality thrives oversee a club?
More than anything else, that prompts a sadness.
City may not boast the richest owners that will propel them to become a global force, but they have owners that are connected to the community rather than leading an overseas state.
They are present. Accessible. Open to both dialogue and scrutiny. That may not translate into European titles, but would Norwich City look or feel the same if it did? Would all the same elements still apply?
Nobody has the answers to these questions but it does leave you feeling disillusioned after a while of consulting them.
Football is continuing to tussle between morality and money. That is the place where Norwich City now exist - not through choice but circumstance. Increasingly, it feels like it is the place where dreams are squashed and hegemony amongst the top and wealthiest clubs is maintained.
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