The Sky Blue Trust celebrates the club’s current league position that Mark Robins, his backroom and players have managed to achieve. However, we continue to find off field matters deeply concerning. There is no doubt that if the club was playing in its’ own city the gates and commercial revenue would be considerably higher. For the good of the short and long term future of Coventry City Football Club, local businesses and above all, the fans, who are detrimentally affected by this situation, it is clearly one that cannot continue.
Therefore we request all parties involved in this ongoing saga to remove every obstacle preventing our football club from returning to its’ community.
These obstacles include, but are not limited to any unreasonable demands and requirements from Wasps (including the indemnity clause, whatever that may entail) and the continuing pursuit of legal actions concerning ground ownership by SISU.
We also call on The EFL and Coventry City Council to do everything within their powers to facilitate a return for the football club to the city of Coventry at the earliest opportunity.Write comment (6 Comments)
SKY BLUE TRUST BOARD MEETING MINUTES
Minutes of the Meeting held 19th September at the Old Windmill, Spon Street
Dave Eyles (Chair), Rachael Brown, Andy Fletcher, David Johnson, Bruce Walker, Neil White
CJ, Frank Smith, Nigel Lawrence
2. Minutes of last meeting – 19 August 2019
3. Matters Arising
Rachael wanted to make it clear that her acceptance of the role of Membership Secretary at the last meeting was on the basis that her role on the Board would not be confined to internal/administrative matters but would also allow her to take part in meetings, groups and networks concerned with ‘external’ organisations and issues.
- This was confirmed and welcomed by the Board.
4. The Supporters Forum – Report Back
Dave reported back from the Forum. Key issues that were discussed included:
(a) The information that Dave Boddy gave to the Forum that the Club/owners had identified 18 sites for a new stadium in the Coventry area and these were being analysed. This meant that CCFC’s stay at St Andrews would have to be extended, since there are no on-going talks with Wasps/ACL at present. It was implied that the EFL had given approval to this extension.
- It was agreed to use the Trust’s contacts with the EFL to ascertain whether such approval had indeed been given.
(b) Colin Henderson had been elected Chair of the Supporters’ Forum, even though the Forum itself had no formal remit and no constitution covering, e.g. voting procedures, length of office, other roles on the Forum and agenda setting.
- It was agreed that Bruce, Rachael and David would prepare briefings for Dave on the guidelines for, and forms of, fan involvement – as proposed by Supporters Direct, the EFL and HMG, for example. This would enable Dave to engage with Colin and the wider Forum on these matters. Dave asked for these briefings by the beginning of November.
5. The Immediate Goal: City Back in the City
- It was agreed that a meeting would be sought first with CCC and Wasps, then with the EFL and CCFC/SISU. Since CCFC had withdrawn from an outline agreement to talk to a Trust Open Meeting, it would be valuable to have completed meetings with the other parties and to have highlighted their outcomes first, and then to put pressure on the Club/SISU to engage with us.
- It was also agreed that in arranging meetings it would be made clear in advance what issues the Trust wished to discuss and why, and that the Trust wished to report on the outcomes to their membership and more widely.
Bruce was asked to set up a meeting with CCC and while David was to arrange something similar with Wasps (perhaps at the Ricoh prior to the next Board Meeting).
It was stressed that the proposed demonstration/gathering at the Ricoh on the day of the cancelled Bury match was nothing to do with the Trust and was not an action that the Trust either endorsed nor opposed. Andy and Neil were asked to make that clear through Twitter and social media as necessary.
6. The Longer Term Goal
It was confirmed that the long term goal of the Trust remained that of increasing fan representation and influence in the Club’s decision making.
7. Press and PR
Following up on previous discussions regarding the overlapping membership and often opaque roles of the various Trust WhatsApp Groups it was agreed that CJ and Dave would reorganize these into three with identifiably different functions but overlapping membership.
As Chair, Dave would be a member of all three above groups.
8. Open Meetings
No actions in this respect were being organized as the participants in the current crisis would prefer (if any) small group or Board only meetings. Open meetings might result once the round of ‘crisis’ meetings has been completed.
It was suggested that one or more members of the Former Players’ Association would provide excellent Open Meeting guests.
The Fighting Fund stood at £4791 as before.
This has fallen by one person to 2790
11. Safety Advisory Group
Bruce reported on Frank’s efforts to uncover the arrangements, personnel and membership of the St Andrews SAG. The role (if any) of Coventry City and their supporters in this SAG, given that it is BCFC’s stadium in the City of Birmingham local authority, was unclear at the time of reporting.
12. Transport Issues
There was a discussion as to whether the Trust should publicise on the website the links to those Supporters Clubs running coaches to St Andrews and to the BCFC website for more general information about attending games there.
13. Community Events and Actions
None planned at present
14. Any Other Urgent Business
The Trust’s Business Address is still that of Steve Brown’s work. CJ to contact Steve and to see if this is still appropriate
15. Date of next meeting
Monday 21st October, 5.30 p.m.: Venue to be confirmed
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It has become clear that certain Coventry City supporters and even some Sky Blue Trust members believe that our board as an agenda which favours Wasps Rugby Club.
Despite radio and newspaper interviews which have made our position clear, this misguided view persists.
The fact is that the only sporting club which is close to our hearts is Coventry City. To that end, we have been involved in conversations with stakeholders surrounding the future of our beloved club.
In recent months, we have had one meeting with Wasps, one with Coventry City Council; and one with The English Football League.
Our only motivation was to persuade all three parties to be more proactive to get the Sky Blues back to Coventry. Each of the parties demanded the meetings were confidential so no minutes could be published.
On each occasion, we made an emotional plea - stating that the people being hurt by Coventry City's absence were mainly the thousands of supporters, including the elderly and infirm, who cannot get to Birmingham.
All three stressed that they wanted the football club back in Coventry. We would be delighted to have a similar meeting with Coventry City and act as a glue if need be.
After the meeting with the council, we submitted formal Freedom of Information requests, particularly surrounding any planned new ground in Coventry. The answers were published.
In the EFL's case, an agreed statement was made and we published a press release accordingly.
After the Wasps' meeting, the rugby club reiterated the position it stated at the meeting with a press statement very shortly afterwards, so we, probably incorrectly, did not put out a release because it would have been saying the same thing.
At that meeting, we asked about the indemnity demand by Wasps and were told that it was 'commercially sensitive'.
Nevertheless, we have followed the meeting with a recent letter to Wasps, Chief Executive, Nick Eastwood, which is published below.
In a phone call response, he has told us again that it is commercially sensitive.
The Trust board continues to work, unstintingly, to get Coventry City back in Coventry. We are sorry to disappoint conspiracy theorists but that is all there is to it. We are volunteers who are all passionate fans of long-standing. If we can successfully bring people together to our common goal, we will be delighted.
The truth is that, while the team is playing brilliantly and will, hopefully, be promoted this season, many people are not getting to see them because of the exile in Birmingham.
Therefore we want all parties to get together to resolve this unhappy state of affairs.
Letter to Wasps.
Dear Mr Eastwood
Firstly I hope this e-mail finds you well and in good form.
You will recall that you met with a group of Sky Blue Trust Board Members on 16th October last for what was a very frank and wide-ranging meeting concerning Coventry City FC and the impasse concerning the Sky Blues returning to play at the Ricoh Arena. You ended that meeting by indicating that you would be more than willing to speak with or respond to us (or indeed any other Coventry City fans) if in the future, we had questions or views that we wished to put to you about this unfolding situation.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Trust in the spirit of your offer to ask two broad questions which are prompted by our deep concern over the current and future viability of CCFC in financial terms, and for the Club as part of the culture and tradition of our City, as a result of continuing to play in Birmingham rather than at the Ricoh.
First, as we raised back in October, there is a widely held feeling that Wasps could gain significantly from allowing CCFC to play at the Ricoh. Doing so would not affect the outcome or costs of any legal proceedings, would bring rental income to Wasps and could give a significant boost to Wasps’ reputation locally and regionally. Wasps have stressed their commitment to Coventry as a city and as a community yet CCFC’s continuing exile is disenfranchising a significant part of that community – those who support, value and care about our football club. We are asking you, therefore – Will you seriously and actively consider allowing the Sky Blues to play back at the Ricoh as soon as is possible and re-open negotiations?
In considering this you may have noted that the Trust has elicited positive responses from Coventry City Council in terms of their desire to see the Sky Blues back in the City and from the EFL who have indicate a willingness to engage with any of the parties to the dispute should those parties deem that to be helpful.
Second, we are of course aware of the action being taken by Coventry City’s owners under EU legislation which could have serious impacts on Wasps. We do realise the possible risks for Wasps as a business in the shorter and longer term should this action be pursued by SISU. We assume that the ‘indemnity’ requirement that has been discussed in the press is an attempt to mitigate these risks. However, while it appears to be the nature of this indemnity which is the immediate cause of the current Wasps-CCFC impasse, there is currently no information on the indemnity in the public domain. While we do understand the nature of business negotiations and confidentiality, can you please let us know what this indemnity is and what it is designed to ‘cover’ – is it in the form of a ‘deposit’ against future actions detrimental to Wasps, against future legal costs, against any future claim against Wasps arising from judicial decisions or simply a form of insurance? What do you see as the possibilities for the indemnity to be negotiated in terms of its size or nature, or even in terms of the very necessity for it?
In sum, the need for the Sky Blues to play in the city and the role that the indemnity issue is playing in the current situation are not only central to the very existence of the Club but are central to the lives of huge numbers of people in the City. We are at a critical juncture.
We look forward to hearing your response
Dave Eyles (Chair of the Sky Blue Trust)Write comment (1 Comment)
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