Delia Smith sets her stall out to defend Norwich City FC from Saddam's friend

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The Independent Football

For a man who has defended the murderous Serbian warlord Arkan, Giovanni di Stefano's attempt to earn a seat on the board of Norwich City football club should pose no problem. But then again, he has never had to go head-to-head with Delia Smith.

In what could prove one of the most bruising clashes in the football calendar, the Anglo-Italian businessman, who reputedly counts Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic among his friends, faces stout resistance from the woman who has brought the secrets of the perfect soufflé to the nation.

It is set to be a classic mismatch. "An absolute joke," is how Delia described Mr Di Stefano's quest for a foothold in the Norfolk club.

Mr Di Stefano, 46, has spent nearly £500,000 on buying six per cent of the shares in Norwich following a failed attempt to buy Dundee football club.

He has warned that he is prepared to use all legal means to get a place on the board and institute his idiosyncratic plans to drag the club into the Premiership. His plans include bringing in players from the Balkans and becoming the man who recruits the first Iraqi player to the league.

He has emerged fresh for the fight after walking free from a multimillion-pound fraud case. "I represent people indicted for very serious crimes, and in some cases I have become friends with them," he said of his relationships after the case was over. However his latest battle could be one step too far.

Delia, who with her husband Michael Wynn Jones owns a 58 per cent shareholding in the club, is said to be "unfazed" by Mr Di Stefano's attempt. She has been a director of the club since 1996 and has poured some of her multimillion-pound fortune from such cookery classics as One is Fun into the club.