Norwich City: The 'Yo-yo club' stuck in purgatory between the Premier League and Championship

Danny Ings scores for Aston Villa to condemn Norwich to another relegation.
Danny Ings scores for Aston Villa to condemn Norwich to another relegation. Credit: PA

This time it was meant to be different, but once again, Norwich City find themselves in that seemingly eternal purgatory between the Premier League and the Championship.

Too strong for the second tier, but too weak to survive in the top flight, the Canaries are seen as the perennial 'yo-yo club', along with Fulham who will once again be swapping places with them next season.

In fact, Norwich and Fulham haven't been in the same division since 2018 - such has been the constant cycle of promotions and relegations experienced by the two clubs.

It's a tag Norwich are desperate to lose, as illustrated by their transfer business last summer in which they forked out more than £50 million on new players in their most expensive window ever.

However, despite that investment, once again they have fallen desperately short of assembling a squad capable of making the step up, and as was the case two seasons ago, they now face another summer of trying to build a promotion-winning team.

Norwich City and Fulham have both tasted promotion multiple times in the past few seasons. Credit: PA

So how will it ever end?

It's a very complex question, but for some fans, the answer is simple: New ownership.

As most football fans now know, Norwich are a self-funded club which means they can only spend what they bring in.

They don't have external investors who can inject huge sums of money to boost their transfer coffers, and in the billionaire's playground that is the Premier League, Norwich have been trying to compete with a millionaire's budget.

It's a sobering thought that joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones will be among the poorest owners in the Championship next season, nevermind the Premier League.

It's led to a big debate between Norwich supporters about whether the club's model is unfit for purpose or whether it's actually Premier League football that is broken - such is the vast disparity between the haves and the have nots.

  • Watch an extended interview with Norwich City fan Terri Westgate

"The fact that Newcastle have to get in billionaires to avoid getting relegated, that doesn't really bode well," Norwich fan Terri Westgate told ITV News Anglia.

"Norwich did actually spend some money in the summer. It's not like the first time we came up and we basically stuck with the same squad and just went for it. We did spend money this time, we bought in international players and still that wasn't enough.

"So, it does make you think: 'What do you have to do to stay up?' But you also look in the Championship and lower down and there are lots of clubs who've spent lots of money and haven't got to the Premier League. Just look a Derby County. There's lot of negative things that can happen from chasing that Premier League dream."

There are some who still believe that Norwich can eventually make it work though.

Brentford and Sheffield United have both managed to survive in recent seasons on not too dissimilar budgets, bringing in quality players for quite modest fees by Premier League standards.

Christos Tzolis was one of Norwich's big summer signings. Credit: PA

It's something Norwich failed to get right last summer, and although players like Christos Tzolis and Josh Sargent may well go on to thrive at a lower level, their inexperience was exposed in the top flight.

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire says better recruitment, and not necessarily splashing the cash, is ultimately the key to Premier League survival.

  • Watch an extended interview with football finance expert Kieran Maguire

"It can be done (survival on a budget) but it is very challenging," he said.

"I think it does come down to recruitment and retention of players and sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you do find players who perhaps haven't been spotted by other clubs and you bring those into your Premier League squad.

"There are sustainable clubs in the Premier League and I think Burnley are the shining example. The Burnley owners, both sets of owners since they were promoted in 2016, have not put a penny into the club in terms of funding through either loans or shares and yet the club has survived.

"So, it can be done but I think you need to have a culture at the club which everybody buys into and you need to have some luck in terms of recruitment."

That recruitment this summer will once again centre on finding players good enough to make an impact in the Championship, while players like Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell may have to be sold to fund any incoming business.

Players like Max Aarons may need to be sold this summer. Credit: PA

The good news for Canaries fans is that parachute payments will once again soften the blow of relegation and could provide the club with a huge competitive advantage compared to the vast majority of their rivals in the second tier.

"Norwich will be very strong in the Championship next season," said Kieran.

"If we take a look at the financial results of clubs that have reported financial accounts for 2021, on average, clubs in the second tier have spent £120 in wages for every £100 that's come through the door.

"We've already seen clubs such as Bristol City say that they already fear points deductions next season because they've failed to control their costs in the Championship and I can assure you that Bristol City are not the only club in that position."

Away from the finances, many Norwich fans are just desperate to enjoy their football again.

Joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones watch on from the stands at Villa Park. Credit: PA

It's been a tumultuous season for the club, both on and off the pitch, with the scrapping of a controversial sponsorship deal, an angry confrontation between a small section of supporters and sporting director Stuart Webber, and a change of head coach all dominating the headlines for the wrong reasons.

On the pitch, head coach Dean Smith has called for a change of culture and you can be sure that he will be targeting players who are more aggressive and less accepting of losing.

But come August, everyone associated with Norwich will be dreaming of repeating what they've done best in recent years- winning the Championship.

"It's always much more exciting to watch your team play in the Championship," Terri said.

"We probably are more suited to playing at that level so I think we'll do well. We've still got some good players and some of those signings can still come good.

"A new season always means new hope and I think maybe next year we'll have some fun again."