(Adds Hughton quotes)
LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Bill Shankly once famously said football was more important than life and death and Norwich City's chief executive appears to concur with the former Liverpool manager's philosophy.
With Norwich fighting to stay in the Premier League, David McNally was asked during a radio interview what relegation would mean for the club.
"The brief is to keep out of the bottom three and that is what we are doing. We will not contemplate relegation, in a sporting sense it is worse than death," McNally said.
"I would prefer death rather than relegation. There is nothing more important than keeping this football club in the Premier League. We are all focused on that."
Pressure has inevitably increased on manager Chris Hughton with Norwich two points clear of the bottom three in a congested bottom half of the table after no wins from six league games.
They face Hull City this weekend and McNally offered Hughton his backing, of sorts, this week.
"The brief for Chris when we were in the bottom three was to keep us out of the bottom three and move us up the table," McNally said.
"But in any position at the football club, if you don't produce results then ultimately that's how you'll be measured.
"Are we disappointed this year with performances? Yes. Are we disappointed we are 15th in the league? Yes."
"We accept we're in a trough at the moment, where performances have dipped at times. Clearly the results haven't been what we'd like," he added.
"We're down there with 10 other teams. I'd absolutely love to have the payroll budget that some of our peers do."
Norwich will be acutely aware that their safety will have to be sealed before the final four games of the season when they play Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Defeat at Hull this weekend could put Norwich bottom of the Premier League if other results went against them but Hughton pointed out that a win could put them in mid-table.
"In a league this season that is very tight around us, we know we're only three points away from 10th place," Hughton told BBC radio.
"But we want to fight and work as hard as we can to make sure we start looking upwards.
"I am desperate as a manager to make sure we keep making progress." (Reporting by Martyn Herman, additional reporting by Pritha Sarkar; editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Toby Davis)