Chase sells out as Norwich chairman

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The Independent Online
Robert Chase yesterday stepped down as chairman of Norwich City after a season-long campaign by sections of the Carrow Road crowd to oust him.

Chase, a Norfolk builder who took over from Sir Arthur South in 1986, is believed to have sold a substantial proportion of his majority shareholding to a former chairman, Geoffrey Watling. Watling, chairman in the 1950s and 60s and instrumental in saving City during a financial crisis in 1957, is now club president.

Chase took over after the club's entire board of directors had resigned following a row over the rebuilding of Carrow Road's main stand. But in recent seasons he has come under intense pressure from disgruntled fans who have accused him of being more interested in bricks and mortar than football.

While Carrow Road is almost unrecognisable from 10 years ago and is regarded as one of the most modern stadiums in the First Division, City's standards on the pitch have slumped dramatically. From the position of title-chasers and Uefa Cup conquerors of Bayern Munich in 1994, Norwich have slipped out of the Premiership and are now languishing near the bottom of the First Division.

Mike Walker, the manager who led the Canaries into Europe, left for Everton amid claims that Chase was unwilling to reward him fully with an improved contract and funds to finance team building. John Deehan and Gary Megson failed to stop Norwich from slipping out of the top flight and Martin O'Neill took over in the summer. But O'Neill walked out to join Leicester in acrimonious circumstances in November, accusing Chase of lacking ambition.

Peter Swales, the former Manchester City chairman, died yesterday in Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital. He had a heart attack last weekend but was thought to be improving. Swales was chairman of City for over 20 years from 1973 before a bitter takeover battle ousted him two years ago and Francis Lee took charge.

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