The Sky Blue Trust welcomes the news that Coventry City are willing to discuss, without any apparent preconditions, the future of the Club’s Academy with Coventry Sports Foundation, who run the Alan Higgs Centre, and Wasps, who are planning to build an indoor pitch at the centre.
The groundwork the Trust did, by holding discussions with the Football League and both of the potential facilities suppliers, showed that the survival of the Academy, predominately based at the Higgs, is possible but it needs all parties to work together on a collaborative plan, that can then be presented to the football authorities for approval. It may involve the inclusion of some facilities from other suppliers, such as Warwick University, who have indicated to the Trust they would be willing to discuss these with the Club but the bulk of the Academy could stay at its present site.
It now needs the Club to take the lead on this matter and get the matter resolved as soon as possible.
The involvement of Sport England, whilst welcome, is not strictly necessary, as their role is to oversee community sport in general and not really the preservation of a professional football club’s elite academy. However, if it helps get things resolved in a more timely fashion, we welcome it.
What is less welcome is the current stated attitude of Coventry City Council. Whilst their ire with the Club’s owners, SISU, over continuing costly and pointless legal wrangling is understandable, the demands for payment for costs that have not been awarded as a precondition of any co-operation are best described as unhelpful. At a time when the Trust is striving to bring all parties together to save the Academy, this attitude is unnecessary and a distraction at this delicate yet vital juncture.
The Council’s anger with the Club’s current owners is justifiable. However, one day these owners, like any owners, will move on. The Trust’s concern is, once this happens, what will be the state of the club they leave behind? The Academy is vital for this club’s survival, no matter who the owners are and it needs saving now, otherwise it could be lost forever. Those that have it in their power to facilitate this survival must co-operate and do so.
The Council is not directly involved in this process and therefore needs to stop unwelcome commentary until this matter is resolved for the good of the football club’s future survival and, thereby, for the good of its supporters.