Supporters Consultative Group – Minutes of meeting 04/12/13
Andy Powell (AP)
Darren Davies (DD)
Pat Raybould (PR)
Adam Dent (AD)
Ray Stephens (RS)
Steve Brown (SB)
Kevin Monks (KM)
Jonathan Strange (JS)
Pat Abel (PA)
Kevin Heffernan (KH)
Stacie McDermott (SM)
Tim Fisher (TF)
Nick Connoll (NC)
• Roll call and apologies
• Minutes last meeting
• CCFC update (Tim Fisher)
o Lucas/Seppala meeting
o Judicial Review
o Rejection of latest council offer
• Report of meeting with Council (Andy Powell)
• Stadium Consultation Group - formation and mandate (Tim Fisher)
• Date of Next Meeting
Tim responded to an article which appeared on the CoventryCity-Mad website and
stated for the record that ‘there will be no suing of fans’ as alluded to in that article.
TF - Great that Pressley got Manager of the Month. The superstore is doing very well.
Loan signings are timely. This is a young squad and they’ve just had a 3-day break as
we are at the half way point in the season.
Club are working off the pitch on a few initiatives – Tim’s time has been on new
stadium initiative and he has a meeting this evening to interview the prospective
chair-person of the stadium consultation group. That person is a highly regarded
professional, lawyer by training and good links to the community.
TF – Stadium technical briefing is done. Requirements have been collected.
Stadium needs a signature DNA of the club to be put on it and that’s for the fans to
decide. What does it mean to fans to have their own stadium? Key Points from Tim
are – entrance needs to look like a football club. Architect strapline – retro yet
contemporary. Tim has spent a lot of time going back and forth to Germany – German
design leads the world at the moment. Would the fans like a mixture of seating and
standing with the ability to interchange like in stadiums in Germany. There is a 35%
uplift in yield on attendances with standing.
In terms of that group, Stacie will join as head of marketing and one other from the
club. Chairperson will then create the group. Potential monthly meetings. Hope to
make an announcement in a few weeks.
TF - Currently bidding on a second site and it is an arduous process. Stadium design
wants to be run in parallel with site acquisition. Site at the moment will be stadium
TF – On to the Judicial Review (JR). Judge found there was a case arguable against
the council loan on three counts, principally state aid and improper purpose. Full JR
in front of senior judge to happen.
JS – Time?
TF – March or April (not confirmed).
JS – Implications?
TF – Each one of the councillors is personally liable. Tim was crystal clear – the
purpose of the JR is not to sue the council rather we maintain that the council have
AP - Would you sue ACL for damages?
TF - We paid £850k of rent last season. Shortfall on the annualised rent was £636k.
The council withheld a rate rebate of £399k and had been overcharging rates since
day one of the Ricoh Arena occupancy but we can only currently claim for the last
three years. The Valuation Office (Central Govt) has told Coventry City Council to
pay back £399k to club. That hasn’t happened yet so we are issuing legal proceedings
against the council to recover the monies owed.
SB – What do you really want out of the JR?
TF – Great question. The club’s issues date back further than the last two years.
Forensic accountants have analysed the period to back beyond 2003 and looked at the
deals on Highfield Rd and the Ricoh Arena. We now understand both the land and the
sub deals, the value attributable and the actual cash flows. It is important that the
people of Coventry know what the council and others have done to the club over the
years. The JR gives no financial benefit to SISU other than to prove there was a
conspiracy to wrest control of the football club from SISU by the council. Judge
Thirlwall agreed on Friday that there was a case to argue on improper purpose. Public
documents from the JR hearing are available which TF encourages everyone to read.
TF – Moving the discussion on to renting the Ricoh Arena. How can we do that? We
couldn’t go near them because of what’s pending and what the judge believes is
arguable – that is the council acting with improper purpose towards the club.
SB – Can you understand that people think you are putting up a wall. From a
footballing and supporters point of view, coming back to Coventry under whatever
circumstances would get people back on your side. People just want the club back.
TF – I fully respect that opinion and respect all the fans. This whole situation is
deeply regrettable. However the council have made their position finally clear. First it
was “Let’s sell the stadium,” say the council. Ann Lucas meets Joy and says “actually
it’s only a rental deal that is available.” We can’t do business with them. Ann made it
crystal clear in the meeting it’s a rental deal only on the table. However we are fully
aware that they’ve been talking to other parties to sell the Ricoh such as a Chinese
group in the last few weeks.
SB – can’t we put an offer on the table?
TF – What does the Sky Blue Trust (SBT) statement of 2nd August mean? We
beseech the football league not to give the golden share to Otium. Club comes first
and always has. We had to save the club on 2nd August. As said before, the FL were
prepared to have 71 teams for one year so we had to act and move the club to ensure
that we could fulfil our fixtures.
Indeed by making such irresponsible statements as that of 2nd August then the fans
are being totally mislead. I am angry and sorry for Coventry fans. I travel by train
where possible to try and speak to and engage with as many fans as I can. The fans in
the SBT are lions led by donkeys. The SBT needs leadership.
SB – We cannot control the fans in the SBT – there are extreme factions. But we are
making changes eg John Fletcher leaving
TF – I won’t chair stadium consultation. The group will be chaired by someone
independent who is a huge Coventry fan and not necessarily a supporter of SISU.
KM – This has gone on for way too long.
SM – At present the club has control of its destiny. How many fans wish SISU had
done due diligence back then and not bought the club? If we go back to rental deal we
might not be in control again.
RS – If we were renting that stadium – big if – there is no reason why we would have
anything to do with ACL. Couldn’t we just turn up and use the stadium. The same as
we are at Northampton. Credit to Tim in that he likes to front up and engage with the
fans. Chairmen and CEOs usually disappear at half time but Tim stays and talks to
SB – Club is in good shape – footballing side of things. I’m not anti-SISU, but I will
not go to Northampton. If you did a deal with the Ricoh I’d be back and so would
JS – It’s the uncertainty.
TF – I understand it’s the uncertainty. People want certainty – whether it’s in a new
stadium or back at the Ricoh. My frustration is born of a group of people who have
overseen the demise of the club over the years. Saturday was fantastic. That’s what
this should be about. I am so sorry we have ended up in a position where we have
found ourselves put into administration for £200k.
RS – I met Joy in Coventry. She was honest. Fans are being encouraged to stay away
but it can work two ways. We have to show solidarity which means watching the team
home or away.
SB – I go and stand on the hill. It’s not the distance. It’s just not home.
JS – Such a danger of the amount of fans that are being lost.
AP – If you’ve drawn a line underneath purchasing the freehold and are committed to
a new stadium, why can’t we do a short term deal for the interim?
TF – We can’t work with them. It’s a good point but we simply can’t.
SB – Five years at Sixfields is too long. You’re losing fans. You say you’re preserving
the club but at what cost.
RS – If they came tomorrow and offered to sell it would you buy the Ricoh?
TF – Joy would certainly be interested, but CCC need to decide what they want to
achieve. We do not think that they can do a deal even if they wanted to. The CCC are
clear that they never sell freeholds.
JM – What is Mark Labovitch’s role, title and does he get paid?
TF – With regard to Mark Labovitch, from a governance perspective he provides an
independent view for the board. He’s paid a nominal Non Executive Directors fee.
TF – For those (new stadium) sites we are considering then we have conducted
economic Impact assessments eg there has to be job enabling. Socio Economic
arguments, community engagement are critical and the stadium will support delivery
of initiatives across health eg smoking cessation, education and anti-racism.
TF – When trying to purchase a share in ACL last year, we brought AEG to the table
to try and run the event/arena side. AEG are a multi-billion turnover entertainment
and stadium management company. AEG would bring a portfolio of entertainment
acts which in turn help grow the arena.
KH – It’s been over 12 months since the reconstitution of the SCG. It time for JS to be
promoted to Chairman and a new Vice-Chairman elected.
JS – The situation has developed so much that it has put a strain on the Terms of
Reference (TOR). Peter Ward (PW) has done a superb job and at this moment whilst
things are so delicately balanced, we ought to continue with peter as chairman for
KH – TOR are clear.
TF - I’m thankful to PW for chairing. There needs to be more effective
communication. Someone should act as secretary to the group.
NC – I’ll be taking a bigger role in the group. The SCG needs a presence on the club
website. I would like to move this forward and get members contact details on the
site, that’s the 15+ SCG members, plus a secretary. One set of uniform minutes should
be produced for use and they should also be published on the club site in a timely
Tim Fisher Left the Meeting at this point to attend another appointment.
AP – Update on the council meeting.
SM - All squad players will be at a JSB party, Monday 23rd December at the Excel
RS – AOB. We as a group should lobby the owners that we go back to the Ricoh on a
rental agreement. It can be done and we should try and force the issue.
PA – I went to a ward forum. Went to councillors and asked them to listen. We should
get people to agitate on our behalf.
KH – We should be putting the question to the club board to explain financial
justification for choosing Northampton over Ricoh.
AP – I will email Tim to explain this (see below note).
SB – We should be more actively lobbying about getting back to the Ricoh. However
we are concerned about this lost generation and have actually promoted the idea or
organising transport for kids to get to Northampton.
KM – Extended a Vote of Thanks to Gregor Ricoh for his work at the Academy and
going above and beyond the call of duty. Additional Vote of Thanks to Lionel Bird for
finding the location of the original Singers FC pitch.
JS – Congratulations to Kevin Monks for receiving an award from the FA for services
to grassroots football.
Date of Next Meeting – Wednesday 15th January at 6:30pm. Venue TBC.