The Annual General Meeting of the Sky Blue Trust was held at the Albany Social Club, Earlsdon, on Tuesday 3rd August. The meeting elected and warmly welcomed four new Board Members – Jamie Gordon, Geoffrey Gulzar, Luke Harris and Grace McKenna. Their pen portraits will appear on the Meet the Board section of the website in due course.
Suffice it to say here that the range of skills and interests that they have, individually and collectively, will greatly enhance the skills and abilities of the existing Board. These new members will be replacing Neil White, David Johnson and CJ Joiner who have retired or resigned from the Board during the year. The AGM also wholeheartedly endorsed the continuing appointment of Rachael Brown, our Treasurer, to the Board.
The AGM also agreed to the co-option of Lionel Bird and Ian Devoy to assist with the work of the Trust, and was pleased to hear that Frank Smith has agreed to continue with his co-option to the Board to continue his role in the areas of stadium accessibility and ground safety.
The Trust wishes to express their gratitude for all the hard work that Neil, David and CJ have put in on behalf of the Trust and we hope to have their continuing support, in different ways perhaps, in the future.'?
The AGM concluded with a wide ranging and often passionate discussion of the current crisis at the City, and backed the Trust’s current objective which is to get Coventry City playing back in the City now. How that objective is to be pursued will be the first task of the new Board in consultation with our members.
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Alongside other Coventry City supporters’ groups, the Sky Blue Trust were more than happy to sign up to the Open Letter, which was originally drafted and promoted by two members of the Sky Blues Talk On-Line Community. The letter points very clearly and in a very timely manner to the anger and frustration that City fans feel over the latest stadium crisis, and what has to be done about it. For those of you who haven’t seen it, we are pleased to reproduce it below.
So, where are we now during this pause in the proceedings? SISU will continue to try to wrest (quite legally, note) the ownership and control of the Ricoh as cheaply as possible from Coventry City Council and Wasps Holdings for pressing financial reasons related to the outstanding debt which they hold. Coventry City Council and Wasps Holdings will continue to resist SISU equally strongly, and, in Wasps' case particularly, for equally powerful financial reasons.
SISU versus Wasps/CCC - it's a brutal match that we are all being forced to watch, with both sides using Coventry City FC as a "football".
We can’t just let these multi-million pound institutions just get on with their battle, can we? Because who is actually suffering in all this? It’s worth repeating – it's Coventry City FC, that's who. It's Coventry City FC -its employees, its on and off the field team, Coventry's local businesses, the Clubs' very culture and tradition and, above all, the fans who are victims here, the collateral damage. If ever there were pawns in the big money/big real estate game that is modern football, then it's the Sky Blues and the Sky Blue Army. But, judging by their actions, no-one with the power to do something to remedy this situation really cares about us and what we want.
Progress must be made to get the City back in the City. That's why we were keen to sign up to the Open Letter and to its call for a further talks.
Coventry City playing at St Andrews again – this is a disaster. How can two businesses who have common financial and other interests in having Coventry City play in the City of Coventry fail to come to an agreement on a matter of huge personal and cultural concern not only to their ‘customers’ but the wider population of the City and beyond?
The contradictory statements of both Wasps and CCFC agree on one thing - that a deal that was mutually beneficial commercially was on the cards. The rest of the potential deal is clouded in mystery and protected by a Non Disclosure Agreement.
Despite CCFC's insistence that they did and Wasps insistence that they did not, did Wasps require some form of guarantee against potential losses from SISU's European action against Coventry City Council?
Or demand that in return for a rental agreement SISU gives up the rights that they have under the law no matter what arises in the future?
If so we know the arguments here. In the event that the European courts were to find in SISU's favour in the matter of the Complaint, doubtless after rounds of Appeals, this would be years down the line and the judgement would not in any case be affected by where Coventry City FC are playing. And a requirement to give up legal rights in the event of unknown and unknowable future issues arising would be totally unreasonable and irrational.
As we have long argued, the financial and reputational benefits to Wasps of letting the City play at the Ricoh are immense, and the broader costs to them of being seen as the party who have forced the Sky Blues out of the City - because that's many how people will see it - will be heavy.
But if Wasps did not make such demands this time round, what have SISU to gain from apparently walking out on the negotiations?
Not short term financial gain, save the immediate sale of season tickets - it is inconceivable that Coventry City are better off from a commercial point of view at St Andrews at this time, which begs the question what are SISU's longer term interests? Creating pressure - making the Ricoh a cheap empty stadium and increasing the pressure on Wasps in these Covid-19 affected financial times?
So the question is, with the possibility of the Warwick University arrangement and all the opportunities that that arrangement might potentially bring, why would the football club walk away from a short term mutually beneficial deal at the Ricoh arena at this time?
In the absence of answers to all of these questions, what then is to be done?
Demonstrations and protests may vent the anger and frustration that so many City fans feel if they were to be well supported and there was agreement about at whom and where they were to be targeted. But surely there has to be a role for the "third-party" Coventry City Council here. Subsequent to leasing the Ricoh to Wasps, the Council have been extremely reluctant to take any role in matters to do with SISU and the stadium, or, indeed, Wasps. Given that they have been the subject of two failed Judicial Reviews and an EU complaint brought by SISU, and are responsible for planning matters to do with a new stadium in Coventry (if that idea has not now been superceded), the Council's reticence is in some ways understandable. However,as we have put to the council in meetings in the past, this is no longer accepatable when the very future of CCFC is at stake. Councils have wider responsibilities than dustbins and taxes - they have the duty and powers to foster and enhance the well being of their communities. Coventry City FC is an integral part of the community and culture of our city. The Ricoh is a publicly owned asset, albeit currently leased to a private company, and would revert to the Council in the event of the lease being broken or the current encumbent wanting to leave. In the end, the stadium is effectivelty ours.
Nobody seriously expects the Council to tear up the leasing agreement with Wasps. What it is not unreasonable to expect, though, is that the City Council raise serious questions about whether that stadium is being used to the detriment of one of our city's major cultural institutions. The people of Coventry, and City fans in particular, may well be completely fed up with the strategies and actions of the Club's owners and the intransegence of Wasps. What they are not fed up with is Coventry City Football Club. The Club is of vital importance still to the people of Coventry and that fact alone justifies intervention by the community's representatives into this damaging and destructive affair. The people of Coventry expect and deserve nothing less.
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