US multi-millionaire businessman and baseball team owner Mark Attanasio is in talks about a potential investment in the newly-relegated Norwich City. Meanwhile, fans have protested about the club’s dismal season and called for a shake-up of its ownership. What do supporters think of the tycoon’s chances of taking the Canaries back into the top flight – and keeping them there?
‘There’s only so much you can do without money’
Harvey Monck, of Norwich City FC’s fan club, believes the Canaries are generally moving in the right direction, despite its poor season.
“There’s only so much you can do without money,” says Mr Monck. “Any investment is good investment – however, that may change the club’s identity, so I think a lot of fans have hesitancy around that.”
The 23-year-old from Attleborough says he is impressed by Mr Attanasio and feels he could be a good pairing with major shareholder Delia Smith.
“As long as the money gets put into transfers – investing in the future club and we progress as football team it’s always exciting,” he says. “It’s what a fan always dreams of.
“Depending on how much comes into the club, it might help us with our survival bid in the Premier League, and get us promoted back to the promised land again.”
‘It should have happened two seasons ago’
“More investment – brilliant – but we’ve still got people watching over the club,” she says.
“It should have happened two seasons ago.
“Last season was utterly humiliating and you really realised the gulf between the two [Premier League and Championship].
“As much as I love the way the club is run, it’s not in the modern world, sadly, so we do have to sell our identity a bit to compete.”
She says she is agreeable to foreign ownership.
“I don’t feel we would be selling ourselves or our morals,” she adds.
‘I think it will rally the people’
“Investment is what’s needed,” says Wesley Stokes, 33 from Cromer.
“It can’t only be a good thing – it’s been a hard season, so fingers crossed it all works out.
“There will always be divided opinions, but I think it will rally the people.”
He said he did not mind foreign investment, especially with Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones staying on.
Mark Attanasio, 64, was born in the Bronx and has a background in investment banking. He is the founder and executive director of Crescent Capital Group.
In 2004, he bought the Milwaukee Brewers, said to be the the smallest team in Major League Baseball, for an estimated $223m (£176m).
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Mark Johnson, a Milwaukee Brewers fan who lives in Kent, says the owner was both liked and respected.
“He does a lot of work for charities, and he’s built up a pretty good team since he took over,” he says.
Mr Johnson says he sees a lot of similarities between the small, locally-supported clubs.
“The Milwaukee Brewers struggle with money to compete against the likes of the LA Dodgers and New York Yankees.
“The majority of their team comes from internal development and trying to draft in as good a quality as they can get – which I think would suit Norwich City down to the ground.”
Asked if Mr Attanasio would spend big, Mr Johnson said while he had invested in the team and the area, he was sometimes called “cheap” by fans who wanted him to spend more on big-name players.
‘The club can do no worse’
“It’s money for them, I suppose,” says Kevin Sambrook, 58, of Mundesley. “It’s all going foreign [investment in football clubs] now, so it doesn’t matter.
“The club can do no worse, it might have a bit of money to spend on more players.
“Apart from that, who knows?
Asked if it was exciting, he replies: “Not really, it’s just football – it’s all money isn’t it.
“Hopefully they just get more players and get back up.”
‘We can’t be known as they yo-yo club’
“I think it could push the club forward – I think we’ve been quite stagnant for a few years,” says Nathan Cunnington, 33, of Cromer.
“I think Stuart Webber and the team have done a brilliant job to try to pull us out of trouble but we need to take that step forward and get some sustainability in the Premier League.
“My only concern is that we become affiliated to a big American corporation.
“But it’s got to be a step in the right direction – we can’t be known as the yo-yo club, it’s got to change.
“Hopefully they will come to the right decision for the club.”
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