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.
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.
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.