Supporters’ groups from across the country have joined forces with politicians and pundits to launch “Sustain The Game!” 
- a new campaign which calls for urgent action from the authorities to protect the existence of clubs throughout
the game.
 
The financial strains caused by Covid-19 have threatened many clubs and fans say urgent action is needed from the football authorities to help them survive.
 
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) is coordinating Sustain The Game! and says that while the current pandemic has brought many issues to an immediate head, these are long standing finance and governance matters which need to be fixed.
 
The Government’s 2019 manifesto committed to a “fan led” review of football governance and the FSA says it wants to demonstrate the support within football for that to happen.
 
The campaign is backed by fans’ organisations from almost all of the 92 Premier League and EFL clubs alongside those in the women’s game, non-league and high profile ex-pros and pundits such as Jamie Carragher, Henry Winter, Colin Murray, Amy Lawrence, Guy Mowbray, and FSA Commentator of the Year Peter Drury.
 
Political support comes in the shape of ex-sports minister Tracey Crouch MP, Labour’s shadow sports minister Alison McGovern MP and Liberal Democrats’ Daisy Cooper MP, the party’s sports spokesperson.
 
The campaign is also backed by the cross-party All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters and many community-owned clubs including the newly- formed Bury AFC.
 
Campaign backers say the football authorities and government cannot sit back and watch as dozens of historic clubs are under immediate threat and could disappear altogether. 
 
FSA chief executive Kevin Miles said:
 
“Football occupies a special space in our society as clubs carry huge cultural and local economic importance. Sustain The Game! will demonstrate the need for urgent action as the very existence of many clubs is under threat. If we don’t act now we might lose some forever.
 
“We call on everyone with an interest in the game, from clubs and leagues to players and managers, to come together and work in partnership to support Sustain The Game! The time for action isn’t next week, next month, or next year - it’s now.”
 
Ex-Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher said:
 
“The FSAs Sustain The Game! campaign can play a massive role in protecting clubs throughout the game. This is a difficult time for the game but its also a chance to make real changes. Supporters; have to be involved in that as well.”
 
Sustain The Game! is built around five key principles and aims to protect clubs, increase transparency, implement strong independent financial controls, strengthen the football pyramid, and increase supporter engagement. 
 
Sustain The Game! Principles:
 
1. Protect our clubs - football clubs are community assets and an important expression of individual and local identity, they deserve legal protection and urgent support to secure their future;
 
2. Transparency - everyone has a right to know who owns their club, and how clubs and the authorities operate. Owners are custodians of clubs on behalf of all of us;
 
3. Financial controls - fans want rules with real teeth which are independently enforced, clubs and leagues cant be left to regulate
themselves;
 
4. Strengthen the pyramid - football as a whole is wealthy, but we need a smarter and fairer use of the money in the game to encourage
sustainability;
 
5. Supporter engagement - fans are the lifeblood of the game, they need a voice in their clubs and on all issues that affect them and their
communities.
 
To find out more about Sustain The Game! and see all signatories visit:
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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.

 

 

On behalf of all Coventry City fans we, as fan groups, demand representatives of both Wasps RFC and Coventry City FC to return to the negotiating table to agree a deal for the return of Coventry City to the Ricoh Arena for the 2020/21 season and beyond.
 
Recent local media reports have suggested that there were indeed requests from Wasps RFC, on behalf of Coventry City Council, to restrict the rights of Coventry City FC to take any future action against Coventry City Council with regards to the Ricoh Arena. We believe that this is a wholly unacceptable request that is tantamount to refusing to agree a deal. Further to this Coventry City Council have recently announced that they have not interfered in recent talks, which begs the question as to why this was requested?
 
Rather than dwell on what has gone, we request that all parties return to negotiations to bring Coventry City FC back to Coventry. All unreasonable requests for restriction of legal rights should be dropped.
 
We ask Coventry City Council to publicly confirm that they do not require any legal restrictions, or indemnification, to be written into any contract for Coventry City to play at the Ricoh Arena.
 
We ask Wasps RFC to not request any legal restrictions, or indemnification, from Coventry City or Sisu.
 
We ask that both Coventry City FC/Sisu and Wasps RFC put their differences aside and immediately return to negotiate commercial terms in good faith for a deal that is mutually beneficial, and considers any financial penalties that may be incurred by Coventry City as a result of the agreed contract to play at St. Andrews in the upcoming season.
 
We call on the English Football League to confirm they will enable Coventry City to return to Coventry to play at the Ricoh Arena, even if the season has commenced when a deal is agreed.
 
We ask that Andy Street returns to help mediate talks between Coventry City FC and Wasps RFC to enable the clubs return to the city of Coventry.
 
If a deal was as close as has been reported, then there is no reason why a deal cannot be concluded if the unreasonable terms implied by a third party to the deal are removed.
 
Signed:
 
Sky Blues Trust
Sky Blues Talk Online Community
Northern Sky Blues Supporters Club
Coventry City Diamond Club
Coventry City Former Players Association
Coventry City LGBT+ Supporters Group
 
 

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.

 
 
 
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