How much more can Coventry City fans take?

Whilst I wouldn’t change supporting Coventry City for the world, I have to admit that I would love to enjoy being able to focus solely on the footballing side of things. In an era where owners of football clubs come under more scrutiny than ever, The Sky Blues are suffering immensely due to poor decisions made by the hierarchy in charge. Ever since the club left the iconic Highfield Road stadium in 2005 to move to the beautifully designed Ricoh Arena, things haven’t quite gone to plan. Us fans who religiously stick behind this team are either ridiculously resilient or plain stupid.

This place is considered to be cursed by many fans.

When SISU arrived on the scene in 2007 to save The Sky Blues from administration, supporters were hoping that the tyrant of torture would come to an end. However, the condition of the club behind the scenes didn’t improve and in fact, it got worse. Meanwhile, the playing staff continued to battle against relegation in the Championship but after avoiding the drop numerous times the club succumbed to relegation and the third tier of English football in 2013. Surely we would bounce back at the first attempt? Well, that dream never became a reality and City will endure their fifth consecutive campaign in League One in 2016/17.

On the pitch last season, huge strides were made with an 8th-placed finish. During the campaign, the off-field shananigans were almost forgotten due to the mesmorising football that was on display. With the disappointment of failing to secure a play-off berth, fans were rightly aggrieved but they were also given a lot of hope that promotion can be achieved in the foreseeable future. In Tony Mowbray at the helm, Coventry City are undeniably equipped with a high calibre manager who’s talents surpass League One level. His wealth of knowledge is extraordinary, as is that of Jamie Clapham and Mark Venus, but it’s just a shame that the ongoing uncertainties shadow over them.

Following countless point deductions and transfer embargoes as well as relocating to Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium amidst legal wranglings between SISU, Coventry City Council and Wasps, it’s safe to say we’ve endured a lot. However, if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, another nail is being hammered into the coffin as I write this. I won’t go into the complexities as I would be producing a novel as opposed to a blog post, but our academy setup is at serious risk. Wasps (who now own the Ricoh Arena) are pressing ahead with their bid to take over the Alan Higgs Centre, the current base, leaving Coventry City’s academy essentially homeless by the summer of 2017. 

Daniel Sturridge, Callum Wilson, James Maddison and many more talented footballers have been nurtured at this club during their younger years. In terms of producing professional footballers in house, Coventry City are in fact ranked 5th out of the 72 Football League clubs. That is an incredible statistic considering where the club is positioned financially, but should Wasps’ application get granted, we would almost certainly lose category two status which would be catastrophic. It’s vital that, particularly in the lower leagues, that you develop players that can either feature within the first-team setup or be sold on for profit. Without that, I really fear for the existence of this once great football club. Our foundations are built on quick sand, and we seem to be sinking slowly towards the abyss. 

The great Jimmy Hill would be disgusted to see his beloved Sky Blues being dismantled.

With the fractured relationship between the club’s owners and the council who are far from blameless, it’s hard to see a future for Coventry City in its current form. All we can do now as fans is unite to get ensure our voices are heard despite differences in opinion, because after all, we are all sky blue. Hopefully we can progress on the pitch and gain promotion to the Championship next season, but even if we achieve that there are underlying issues that mean it wouldn’t be a quick fix. All of the relevant parties need to stop playing a game with OUR football club and put its interests at the heart of discussions. 

I am sick and tired of reading about court cases, bickering between us, the council and wasps. We don’t own a stadium. We don’t own a facility to incorporate our academy. What have we got to our name? For all of us that are waiting for the day that SISU sell up and move on, what exactly is there to sell apart from a title and a few contracted players? Our assets have been stripped and whilst not being completely against the owners in isolation (various parties have played a part in this mess), why on earth are they sticking around? It seems as if they are sucking out every penny possible before packing their bags and calling it day. I don’t even want to imagine what state the club will be in upon their eventual departure, if there is one left.

Anyway, sorry for the depressing article. I hate to be pessimistic and I’m usually very optimistic so here’s to a positive 2016/17 season.

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. Clive Black says:

    Dear Matt,

    this is an important piece and, sadly, a story you need to focus upon to my minds for the sake of supporters.

    Whilst the mess at Coventry City involves a cocktail of parties as you say we have to come back to focus on Sisu at the end of the day. Some involved but critical questions come to mind:

    1. Why do they not respect the Courts of Law? The recourse to those courts shows a litigious, bullying culture if they do not get their way…, their predicament is always someone else’s fault.

    2. Sisu is in charge of the running of the Club. With one year left on the Academy lease why were they not duly diligent with proposals in place for an alternative venue? Why was this not sorted sometime ago…? Coventry City’s statement yesterday on the Academy was laughable naive nonsense; mis-management.

    3. Sisu arguably acts in bad faith. I thought it telling that Wasps called of negotiations on the stadium with Sisu deciding to negotiate in public, which is not professional. Who do Sisu think they are and why does no one trust them (see point 1.).

    4. Sisu has no intention of building a new ground, we all know that – where are the new stadium plans at now; it was always a negotiating ploy from a crowd that other parties totally see through. Now we’re apparently talking to Coventry Rugby Club. What a joke. Where are the coherent stadium plans (in reality there are none as Sisu didn’t see Wasps coming…, thought they were the only kid in town and we’re shown to be out of touch and actors of bad faith)?

    5. Is Sisu ‘fit & proper’? Where is the Football League in all this – surely it should be sending shots across the bows that Coventry City must play within the city boundaries and have visibility to its future, which commonsense says the Ricoh.

    6. Lastly, if a bigger club than Rotherham came knocking on Mr. Mowbray’s door…, with one year on this contract…, what would you do. Mark Robins saw through Sisu…I think most managers do… I fear Mr. Mowbray may have enough at some stage.

    It is very depressing as you say but Sisu need to know that supporters get it. Others have contributed to City’s challenges but we need to be very clear about where responsibility lies. Think back to the clowns that Sisu has planted at the Club and the trail of appalling decision-making. Please do not lose sight either of the near destruction and disenfranchisement of the Club at Northampton – look at their prior owners by the way – only to crawl back to Wasps and ask to play at The Ricoh. Sisu is paying the price for its actions with no goodwill whatsoever and total suspicion and distrust.

    I sense we as supporters need to raise matters of Sisu once again starting with The Coventry Evening Telegraph, The Football League and local political representatives.

    All the best.

    Clive

    Sent from my BlackBerry — the most secure mobile device — via the EE Network

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks a lot Clive, superb comment and you are spot on in regards to the owners. This really is an awful time for our football club.

  2. Gary says:

    Hit the nail on the head Matty! Well said

  3. Shell says:

    Good article and I really think it’s time for the Football League to get involved and explain what fit & proper owners mean?? as somehow SISU seem to have managed to pull the wool over their eyes, please someone help us and let us wake up from this nightmare once and for all,

  4. Our club (that’s OUR club) is very slowly dying on its arse and at the moment there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it. I’m genuinely fearful for the future of the club. Worrying times…

  5. Gary Jones says:

    Agree with every word, Matty, especially the apportioning of blame. There are several villains in this but ultimately all the trouble has started out with SISU (leaving out the ill-fated decision to sell Highfield Road) and they continue to make all of the running in the seeming ruining of our club. I genuinely believe that if the situation were ever to be reached where SISU could make a penny more from liquidating the club than from continuing to run it then they would do just that. After all, what exactly is the raison d’etre of a hedge fund?

    The probable loss of the acadamy status should, you would have thought, be of serious concern to SISU as where has their only profit come from thus far? Maddison, Wilson, etc. is the answer to that question (all sold too early when we could have had the benefit of their presence at the club for another year or two and SISU could have had an even bigger profit from them in the end; look at Wilson’s value now). How exactly will they make money out of Coventry City if we no longer produce good, talented young players and, if this cash cow dries up, what will they then do with their ‘asset’?

    On a different note, thanks a lot for the excellent match reports, Matty, always trying to look for the positives, but being prepared to be critical where this is due. I much prefer them to the ones on the club website where, understandably, there is a reluctance to be critical. As an exiled Sky Blue (160 miles away) I only get to a few ‘aways’ each season and all ways of keeping in touch via a balanced viewpoint are welcome. I’ll come and shake your hand sometime at a future game.

  6. Frank Finn says:

    Great article Matt the common denomonator is SISU who yried to bankrupt a charity, took on a council and lost and they are supposed to be clever buisness men !!! says alot really.
    CCFC dont even own a lawn mower so what really is there to sell.
    SISU are acting like spoilt kids ie if we cant have it nobody else will

    Frank

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks a lot Frank.

  7. GT says:

    Excellent article Matt, as always. I had a reminder last week on Facebook that it was the anniversary of Tim Fisher announcing that our football club, would be relocating to Northampton, “for the good of all concerned” (apart from the fans obviously) and with “financial fair play” in mind!
    He announced the setting up of the “Stadium Consultative Group” to enable SISU to listen to what the fans wanted in: “Their NEW Stadium”! He also informed us that “A site had been located” for the new stadium and planing approval was being worked through.
    It is laughable now, to look back and see how ridiculous his statement was and how they were, realistically, trying to bankrupt ACL, in an attempt to steal the Ricoh for pennies.
    Wasps arrival has scuppered all their plans and left them out in the dark and without up shit creek, without a paddle.
    Let’s not also forget that the Ryton Training ground has been remortgaged, which leaves us with no real assets at all.
    A sad and sorry state of affairs for all “True” fans of CCFC, whichever way you look at it.

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks a lot, and precisely. We have nothing left.

  8. Alan C says:

    Nice little blog there fella. Although I’m not a CCFC fan I do sympathise with you guys having been through relegation with Cov rugby as well as the last owner trying to put us into liquidation.
    What I will say though is that Wasps aren’t trying to buy your academy from under you. SISU have been threatening to leave and build their own academy, which would leave the Alan Higgs empty. What do you expect the owners to do? They have to look elsewhere, the same as the council did when SISU moved CCFC to Northampton and said they were building their own stadium.
    The common factor in all of this is not the council, Wasps or Alan Higgs, it is the cancer who own your club who are trying to bully and steal their way to a stadium and a training facility on the cheap. The problem is that they were found out and no local organisations or businesses will work with them.
    I do fear that until they leave CCFC are never going to progress. It’s very sad and although I don’t support CCFC they are part of our history. Going forward they are part of our cities future along with Wasps, Cov Bees Speedway, Cov RFC, Cov Bears RL and Cov Blaze (who also weren’t originally from Cov).

    Chin up guys, I fear it will get worse before it gets better, but as soon as they finally do go, someone who actually cares can step in and build bridges with Wasps, CC and Alan Higgs along with the rest of the businesses in the city.

    1. Sisu are a hedge fund company and would never have invested in the sky blues, they are there to strip out, every asset the club have or had, they are the pits and wasps came along and out manoeuvred them, they are done for, and they should slink off with there tail between there legs and fall down bottomless black hole. Michael a fan for 68 years

  9. Russ Moore says:

    This is the real reason behind early bird season tickets, to get your money before all the shit starts flying and a lot of people wouldn’t bother after what’s being going on this week about the academy.
    No marquee signings as of yet (and don’t expect any which involves money) so another year of loans and has beings fortunately I think we have signed all of mowbrays ex players so could be fresher blood to come into our ranks people are dreaming about Baker coming back but why would he? the way he and other players were treated by our shit owners.
    unfortunately its going to be another year of torment and pain following city again this year and really can’t see it getting any better.pusb

  10. Michael scaysbrook says:

    Sisu are a hedge fund company and would never have invested in the sky blues, they are there to strip out, every asset the club have or had, they are the pits and wasps came along and out manoeuvred them, they are done for, and they should slink off with there tail between there legs and fall down bottomless black hole. Michael a fan for 68 years

  11. Paul Burton says:

    Hi Matty.
    Another heart felt blog, by another long suffering fan. My own feeling on this matter is as long as Sisu remain the club will suffer. So we wait. Surely, eventually they will leave. Not sure we will have a club left and only a rump of fans. What must it be like working for these idiots, if Mowbray fails again to get City promoted we lose him too. All very sad. I used to think Premiership survival was number one worry. Now it’s will we have a club left to run next year. Very interesting, but true comment from the Cov Rugby fan. He sees right thru all the bias.

  12. Robert Leslie says:

    Matty, you tell the sad story so well.
    Losing the Academy would just put the tin hat on our demise. We currently have respect across the football league structure as a a club that brings on young talent. This means that bigger teams are happy to send their young tyros out on loan to us – Adam, Jacob and Ryan last season. Their contributions last season got us close to the promised land of the Championship.
    Lose the Academy and our loanees will be coming from the Championship rather than the Premiership.
    We’re blown it! Last season was our last chance saloon and we messed it up. League Two and the Conference beckon.

    1. M_Roper says:

      Thanks Robert. Absolute nightmare. It’s this season or bust really by the looks of it isn’t it?

  13. Brian cator says:

    Well said. I was hoping a few years back they would sell to Preston haskell. That would of been a smart move for our club. Give it a few years and we will be playing at Gosford Street parking with a couple of coats chucked down as posts. #Pusb #CTID

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