Monday night's Sky Blue Trust meeting at the Albany Club attracted around 100 supporters to hear very informative talks by Ashley Brown, who led the Portsmouth supporters' takeover and is now Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, and Jamie Mathie the Club Development Manager at SD.
James outlined the principles of supporters' involvement in ownership, giving examples of where it has been successful and how other groups had gone about it. Ashley gave a detailed account of what had actually happened at Pompey and the model they adopted with a mixture of several thousand fans buying shares individually or collectively and a dozen wealthier fans making up the ownership.
Both stressed that it wouldn’t be easy. In fact due to the current unbalanced financial structure of football that whilst things were slowly changing for the better it would be a financial struggle for a supporter owned club to compete financially with clubs with benefactors who were willing to lose tens of millions each season pursuing the Premiership dream. However supporter ownership would give a club better gates, better community involvement, better relationships with businesses and local authorities, and local media. However, it wasn’t a panacea or an easy road ‘
Roger Ellis, the Sky Blue Trust Secretary, outlined that the Trust had been working in the background on several contingency plans to meet a variety of situations that might arise, from a willing seller, to administration and even liquidation. He stated that legal and financial experts had been appointed and had already provided invaluable advice assistance. Roger stated that the Trust had approached Joy Seppala twice asking for a without prejudice meeting to discuss a possible exit strategy for SISU but was rebuffed by SISU’s lawyers and an inaccurate story put about by Tim Fisher through the now disbanded SCG. These initial rejections will not dampen the Trust's efforts as things cannot be allowed to continue to deteriorate on and off the field any further.
The over-riding message from both speakers was that it can be done. Supporters working together can be very powerful. Not all supporters will agree but as long as a majority are on message anything can be achieved.
The meeting was then opened to the floor and a variety of questions and opinions were offered but all pointed to the fact that those in attendance all wanted a change of ownership before its too late.
There was a call from one individual asking for a boycott of season tickets - a campaign the Trust will not back as this, just like attendance at Sixfields, is an individual's decision. However it was pointed out by others that there really was no need for a boycott as people were doing it off their own bat anyway. When a straw poll was taken, 75% of attendees currently had season tickets but not one said they would be renewing next year. To make it abundantly clear, no-one - neither the Trust nor the Jimmy Hill Way - is “calling for“ nor promoting a season ticket boycott. Supporters will decide on that for themselves. It was made clear by both organisations that administration was neither desirable nor certain.
Following advice from Supporters Direct the Trust intends to conduct a large scale questionnaire of supporters to gauge matters such as what they would like to happen to their club, what their expectations would be and how that might be achieved. Details of the questionnaire will be released soon.
Another attempt will be made to meet with SISU to discuss an exit strategy. The Trust hopes that there is a change of attitude and Ms Seppala will at least hear what they have to say.
Watch the Periscope broadcast of the meeting belowWrite comment (0 Comments)
23 January 2017, 7:30pm at The Albany Club, Earlsdon Street
Over 20,000 people have signed the Coventry Telegraph petition calling on SISU to put Coventry City up for sale. Campaigning, involving large numbers of City fans, is producing a clamour for that to happen, which grows in strength by the day and which has received clear backing from many respected people in football. What can supporters do to try to bring that about? Could fans be involved in buying the Club from SISU and seeking to reverse the appalling decline of the last 9 years.
The national organisation, Supporters Direct, has been working since 2000 to help supporters gain influence in the running and ownership of their club. The meeting will hear from representatives of Supporters Direct about the numerous examples of successful supporter ownership of Clubs, both in their entirety and in partnership with wealthy investors. The meeting will explore how possible supporter ownership should be tackled. Supporters Direct and Trust representatives will then describe possible ways forward in Coventry involving, as necessary early steps, a process of consulting and informing Coventry supporters on the opportunities and issues involved.
All City supporters are welcome to attend the meeting at the Albany Club, 10 Earlsdon St., Earlsdon, at 7:30pm on Monday 23rd January 2017
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This article is a cross-post from the website of the Jimmy Hill Alliance, of which the Trust is part. It's a long read, but we felt it's such a good exposition of where Coventry City FC is at, and the possiblitiues for the future, that it should be read by as many peopl;e as possible. So we're doing our bit to make that happen.
“The pertinent question that keeps going unanswered. Wanting them out at any cost, could leave us without a club.”
An entirely reasonable statement (although it’s not actually a question, Jez) which I will try to address by looking at a variety of potential outcomes for Coventry City, from where the club is currently positioned, together with the possible consequences of each outcome. I hope that this article deals adequately with a number of other relevant questions about the future of the Sky Blues. However, as all the whole article runs to over 4,700 words, I’ll start off by listing my Conclusions, then those who are still interested can plough on through the detailed arguments.
- The demand from The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign, in accordance with others such as the Coventry Telegraph, is for Sisu to Sell Up and Go. That is not forcing them out “at any cost”.
- The ball is very much in Joy Seppala’s court. If she stubbornly holds onto ownership of Coventry City, there is little that can be done to remove Sisu, even if potential buyers are waiting in the wings.
- An improvement in on-field performance and results, combined with solutions to the critical issues facing the club may satisfy sufficient supporters to keep the club going in the short-term. It would take a fundamental shift in attitude and management competence for the current owners and directors to achieve these requirements. What confidence can we have that any upturn in fortunes would be more than temporary after 9 years of failure and mediocrity?
- If the club is relegated at the end of this current season under Sisu ownership and issues such as Academy closure, future at the Ricoh etc. are not resolved, the survival of the club is at considerable risk. The tolerance of a considerable number of supporters will have been exhausted. It is difficult to imagine how there would be a viable business model in such circumstances under Sisu’s ownership.
- Even if Sisu agree to put the club up for sale, there is no guarantee that a credible buyer will emerge. The challenges facing new owners are daunting and there may not be an acquirer with the brave inclination to take on the task.
- A credible buyer will have to have the necessary financial capability to buy the club and invest in its development and should be acceptable to supporters in other respects, particularly they will need to demonstrate that the interests of Sky Blues fans are paramount.
- The longer that Seppala waits before putting the club up for sale, the less likely she will be to achieve a successful exit and the amount that she might realistically expect to be recovered will depreciate rapidly, barring a series of significant improvements in the fortunes of Coventry City, both on and off the field. A continuing failure scenario would of course be even more catastrophic for supporters.
- Keeping the pressure on Sisu is essential. While we fully support the boys in Sky Blue, the long-term existence of CCFC is even more vital than the team’s survival in League One.
- Supporter-led ownership in combination with wealthy individuals who are willing to match funds raised by a Community Share Issue may provide a viable solution (perhaps the only viable solution) ….. but only if Sisu put the club up for sale before it is too late.
- An initial bid from Supporters may flush out suitable investors with sufficient financial resources to buy the club outright. Shrewd purchasers will want supporters as allies and perhaps achieve this by granting fans a non-financial stake in the club.
- To answer the “Pertinent Question”: Sisu remaining in control of Coventry City could leave us without a club and on the balance of probabilities, that is the likely outcome in my opinion. New credible ownership that puts the interests of supporters foremost in the business plan could save the Sky Blues and stands a far better chance of success than Seppala and Fisher. The challenges are daunting and the more time that passes before Sisu decide to leave, the bigger the challenge will become.
So please Sisu: Sell Up and Go …. NOW.Write comment (2 Comments)