Sporting Director Webber leaving Norwich City after six years
Written by Simon Austin — June 13, 2023
NORWICH CITY Sporting Director Stuart Webber is leaving the club after six years.
The 39-year-old informed the club’s joint majority shareholders, Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, of his decision at the turn of the year. An external recruitment process, led by the club’s Board, to appoint a replacement is already underway.
Webber will remain in post and continue to work his notice period to ensure "a thorough transition and handover", the club said.
Neil Adams, who is currently Assistant Sporting Director, will move into the newly-created position of Technical Director.
Webber said: “I’d like to thank Delia, Michael and the rest of the Board for their understanding in making this decision. The support I’ve had from all the board, past and present, throughout my time at the club has been outstanding.
"Delia and Michael are two of the most special people that I’ve met. They care so much about Norwich City, its staff and supporters. I’ve worked with some incredible staff, from my direct reports to the Executive Committee and wider staff across both the football club and Community Sports Foundation.
"I’ve seen so many staff grow and develop, and I can’t thank them enough for their dedication. Nobody will ever be able to take away our two title wins, the growth of the Lotus Training Centre and academy, and the connection our football areas now have with the wider business.
"Together, we have enjoyed some really special moments and we should be incredibly proud of the foundation we have managed to build to ensure future success at this club.
“To the players I’ve worked with, I’ve learned so much and they have done some incredible things over the past six years. They will go down in history at this football club. I look forward to the next chapter and helping as much or as little in this transition over the coming months. The board know they have my unwavering support.
“Thank you to every Board and staff member, player and supporter that I’ve met. I wish the club the very best and I look forward to supporting from afar.”
During his time at Carrow Road, the Welshman has become one of the most prominent Sporting Directors in the country. He has also been, without question, the dominant football figure at the Norfolk club.
When he arrived from Huddersfield Town in April 2017, Webber admitted this had been one of the main reasons for joining.
“The attraction of having the remit to come in and massively affect the football department, from the tip of the iceberg with the first team right down to the Academy, makes it an exciting challenge for myself," he said.
“There's a real carte blanche to go and do it as I believe is right and you don't get many opportunities like that at big football clubs.”
He immediately put his mark on the club, sacking almost every head of department and installing the unknown Daniel Farke as Head Coach. There was criticism and controversy at first, but success followed, with the Canaries winning the Championship under Farke in both 2018/19 and 2020/21.
However, their two subsequent seasons in the Premier League were huge disappointments, with the club finishing bottom in both 2019/20 and 2021/22. Last season was a big setback too, with Norwich finishing 13th in the Championship.
This led to personal abuse from some sections of the fanbase and, speaking on the TGG Podcast in March (which you can listen to via the Player above), Webber admitted: "This game, I love it, but there’s a flip side of it, which I think is getting worse and worse now, of what people deem as acceptable to say to you.
“The worst thing is if you’re with your son and your wife, or one of them. It’s like there’s a grown man there calling me the c-word in front of a six-year-old. I don’t think that’s ok. I don’t think anybody should have to go to work and put up with that.
“I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s right, but it also helps teach you, ‘I’m not sure I want to do that forever, I think there’s got to be something else.’ Because what I won’t let it do is kill my love and enthusiasm for the game."
However, away from the pitch the club has made major strides in recent seasons. They have revamped their training ground, turning it into one of the finest facilities in the country.
The Academy remains Category One and was 15th in the most recent edition of TGG's Productivity Rankings, for 2021/22. They have developed a Data and Innovation department which is creating bespoke data systems and also signed players from South America (Marcelino Nunez and Gabriel Sara) for the first time.
However, because of his prominence and straight talking, Webber will continue to divide opinion among the fanbase.