So what's the verdict on City's return to the Championship so far? Bit late now for a half term report and a mite too early for an end of term round up. But with 90% of the season gone and four games to go we can probably make some 'to be confirmed' judgements - bearing in mind, of course, that, at the time of writing we are still not completely safe from relegation but also have shown quite excellent form in three out of the last four matches. So don't rule out a sunburst of a finish!
If we are asking how are we doing and how have we done, we need to decide what we expected, realistically, this season. While we all know that the Sky Blues are the best team in the land, expectations were dampened somewhat by a recognition that the Championship is indeed a tough place - tougher than the third tier, because there are ex-Premier League clubs in here and a much shorter tail of clubs that a team like the City could be supremely confident of beating.
Hopes may have sprung a bit less eternal also when the club made the divisional leap with, allegedly, the second lowest playing budget in the Championship, with the modest recruitment bill which that implies, plus the usual requirement - usual for the City, that is - that they break-even in cash terms over the season.
The club's primary playing objective of 'Avoid Relegation' as set for Mark Robins can also sound more like a cry for divine intervention than a clarion call for glory when into this we factor the thunderbolts of Covid and long term injuries that the Gods of Football have thrown at the team. Coventry City are not unique in this suffering, but we are doubly cursed by the thinness of the squad. So, pub talk of whether the really intriguing and quite exciting combination, in some form, of Godden and Walker would work soon evaporated because of no Godden, no Walker... and no pubs to talk in. Heated debate about whether, in their absence, City should play one or two up front always seemed rather vacuuos given that for much of the season we didn't have two strikers worthy of a Championship start to turn out in Matty and Tyler's absence - and I think Mark Robins' increasing irritation with questions along those lines showed that he knew that too - only too well!
Even recognising this, there were criticisms of the way that the one-up, often cautious approach employed from the outset in many games, and persevered with for most of those matches, made City look like they were playing not to lose against sides that they should have been quite capable of beating. For that reason, the games against Wycombe, at Luton and (horrendously) at QPR, for example, were much more depressing than the defeats at Brentford and Swansea or at home to Norwich.
In contrast, what City are capable of as a team when they are approaching full strength with Mark Robins embracing the tactics to match has been amply shown in the most recent matches against Bristol City and Rotherham and, particularly, against a strong and high-performing Barnsley side. These wins have been a real credit to MR , his staff and every one of the City's players.
So what now are our expectations for the Sky Blues? While we would, in principle, settle for 20th or even 21st this season, 'Upper Lower' would now be a more than acceptable position for our first year back in the Championship. We have experienced two promotions in three years while starting from a catastrophically low base that had seen us hit the fourth tier for the first time in 60 years, and finish the regular season in 2017-2018 in our lowest League position since 1958.
So if we believe current expectations will be fulfilled 2020-21, what of the future? That, as we know, is another day and another story! We'll be back at the Ricoh - which should be a tremendous boost - home at last! But what about the crowds, will we hang on to the most valuable members of our team and will MR be allowed to continue to develop and deepen the squad? One way or another it is going to be a particularly interesting summer.
Sky Blue Trust in Support of the Fans of the "Big Six" in their condemnation of a proposed breakaway Superleague
Supporters from across English football – including fans of the “Big Six” – are united in their condemnation of plans for a breakaway European Superleague.
Last night, six Premier League clubs confirmed their intention to join The Super League, a closed competition commencing in 2022.
But today supporter groups from Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur all condemned their respective clubs for their involvement in the scheme.
Arsenal Supporters’ Trust said: “This represents the death of everything that football should be about.
“The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust will do everything we can to oppose this.”
Supporters from their North London rivals and counterparts at Tottenham Hotspur also condemned their club for acting behind closed doors and disregarding fans’ feelings on a breakaway league – accusing the club’s board of “betraying” the club’s history.
“Enough is enough,” Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust said. “The current Board is prepared to risk the club’s reputation and its future in the opportunistic pursuit of greed.
“One of England’s most famous clubs could find itself expelled from English league competition.
“We demand the Board immediately disassociates itself from the breakaway league.”
Across London, The Shed End flag group have been highlighting demonstrations outside Stamford Bridge in protest at the club’s conduct. Chelsea Supporters’ Trust also said: “This is a decision of greed to line the pockets of those at the top and it has been made with no consideration for the loyal supporters, our history, our future or the future of football in this country.”
On Merseyside, the Spion Kop flag group said it would be removing its flags from the Kop at Anfield following Liverpool’s confirmation that it plans to be one of the founder-members of The Super League.
This afternoon protesters hung banners on the gates at Anfield while the club’s supporters’ union, Spirit of Shankly, said: “As fan representatives we are appalled and completely oppose this decision.
“Fenway Sports Group have ignored fans in their relentless and greedy pursuit of money.”
Supporter organisations at both Manchester clubs also expressed their outrage at the conduct of their clubs. The 1894 atmosphere group at the Etihad said: “We speak for our substantial membership and others who follow us on social media by saying we hope City withdraw from these proposals.” The Manchester City Official Supporters’ Club also condemned the plans, saying they would work with other fan groups to oppose the Superleague.
“Project Big Picture was bad enough,” 1894 said. “These plans could devastate domestic football.”
Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) accused their club’s hierarchy of betraying “everything this club has ever stood for.”
MUST said: “A ‘Super League’ based on a closed shop of self-selected wealthy clubs goes against everything football, and Manchester United, should stand for.
“We urge everyone involved in this proposal including Manchester United to immediately withdraw.”Write comment (0 Comments)
Coventry City Supporters Forum
Minutes of the meeting held on the 18th of March 2021 @ 5.00pm via Zoom
1. Apologies for absence – Kevin Heffernan, Colin Power
Dave Boddy (CCFC)
Tynan Scope (CCFC)
Mark Hornby (CCFC)
David Busst (SBITC)
Colin Henderson – Chair
Pete Griffiths – Sky Blues Talk - Minute taker
Dave Eyles – Sky Blue Trust
Kevin Greenfield – Disabled supporters
Chris Holliday – Southam
Jim Brown – Former Players Association
Ray Stephens – Diamond Club
Pat Raybould – Family Zone/JSBs
Simon Champion – Leamington and Warwick
Mike Garlick - Corporate
2. Club up-date (including submitted questions)
Dave Boddy (DB) gave a club update. He thanked the group for postponing the original date for the meeting. He explained that at the time he knew the Ricoh deal was close. He explained that the Ricoh deal was an almost 2-year negotiation and recognised the response from the supporters had been phenomenal as they thought it would be. He explained the long-term nature of the deal of up to 10 years and at least 7 enables a long-term plan to take the club forward. DB emphasised how difficult this season had been with COVID and finances. He advised that football will be paying for this season for a long time. Possibly over the next 4 years or more. He urged us to have realistic expectations of what’s possible next season. We’ve survived this year with ongoing support from the owner. He explained games have been hectic without any time to plan or think in between. This has affected the football and non-football side of the business.
Further questions were asked from those not covered from the submitted questions from the supporter’s groups prior to the meeting
If the club returns to the Ricoh, will the club ensure that the standard of service and catering are provided to the same level as currently provided by BCFC. Will pricing of drinks and food be comparable?
DB doesn’t feel CCFC can answer as it’s provided by Delaware North. Tynan Scope (TS) explained that BCFC had their own in-house caterers. So, although CCFC can’t guarantee the same level they can offer their input, challenge what doesn’t meet the standard, but Delaware North are responsible for the standard of the product.
Kevin Greenfield (KG) – Who decides which bars and which outlets are open at Ricoh Arena?
DB – All kiosks will be open unless otherwise agreed with CCFC.
Jim Brown (JB) – Expressed his opinion that the standard of staffing was poor at the Ricoh in the season before we left and asked Is this likely to improve?
DB – Explained that Delaware North had Inherited what they had from
Compass for the 18-19 season at the Ricoh. Asked that the supporters forum feedback if the service is not what it should be in the coming season.
JB – Asked about the real ale bar that Wasps have access to?
DB will take this away and look at whether this is possible.
Colin Henderson (CH) – Any progress on the EU complaint?
DB – Absolutely no news. He explained that complaints can take up to 5 years to be heard and this is likely to have been further delayed by COVID and Brexit. It’s also possible that it won’t be heard as we are no longer part of the EU. TS proposed that as CCFC can’t impact this question that we avoid it coming up each meeting. All agreed that it would only be raised if something happened.
CH Can we have a progress report on the planning for the new stadium at Warwick University?
• Planning application
• Financing for the new stadium
• What are the economics for CCFC on taking such a large amount of debt?
DB Said there was no update but to say that there is a lot of work behind the scenes. He explained that the University are creating a master plan for the whole area to incorporate road, rail, buildings etc. There was no current timescale for this. DB explained he doesn’t take day to day responsibility for the club regarding the new stadium as the owners are the ones liaising with the University of Warwick.
CH Has the club signed off the shirt designs for 2021/22? Will there the two or three kits in 2021/22?
Yes, they have been signed off late Autumn 2020, the lead times for this are quite considerable. How many kits for 2021/22 will not be announced now but they will be announced as part of the overall strategy. A lot of time is spent thinking about designs and making them perfect in party with Hummel the kit providers. Prices and timings of kit will be similar to previous seasons
DB / TS – M and M direct will not in future be able to sell kits.
CH Would it be possible to arrange a summer kids party for JSB’s (COVID-19 compliant) following the cancellation of the 2020 Christmas party?
Mark Hornby (MH) in discussions with Pat Raybould (PR) have agreed it is not feasible to put on a summer kid’s party. All efforts will be put into making the Family Zone as good as possible and will look to arrange a fabulous JSB Christmas party in 2021.
CH Is there an opportunity to work with fans who are independent designers / and or have supporters club merchandise to sell their stock on the CCFC website? This could include a revenue sharing agreement for the club.
TS Probably no to working with Hummel and given issues with safety it would make it difficult to get up and running and the costs would outweigh the potential benefits to the club. DB said the club was happy to promote support groups website as they already do on the CCFC website. On a follow up question regarding selling unofficial merchandise TS advised that Hummel wouldn’t agree to CCFC redirecting potential customers away from their merchandise.
CH Regarding I follow, how much has the club taken in revenue so far this season compared with attendances last season?
DB advised they get feedback after every game. They are unable to give the figure in this forum. He explained when the game is on the red button the figures are less and as season tickets get access to i-follow the home games bring in less revenue than the away ones. All agreed it was worth repeating that the money paid to watch through i-follow comes back to the club.
Ray Stephens – (RS) – Do you think the EFL will make this available next season?
DB said he expects I-follow to only be available if COVID restricts attendances into next season. For CCFC the away following brings in 25% of the match day revenue. Midweek games might be different but If grounds are fully open there is no expectation of i-follow being available for Saturday games.
Following an excellent question about i-follow being available when away allocations are sold out, MH will take this away to consider but the decision is the EFL’s.
CH Is it possible to live stream the clubs under 23’s and under18’s games for a fee?
DB would love to do this but is not sure it’s financially viable for the club to do. It has been in their thoughts for the last 2 seasons. MH added that streaming requires a more robust/reliable internet connection than is available at Alan Higgs. DE made an excellent suggestion to partner with one or both universities to see if any students would like to help with this.
3. Election of a Vice Chair.
1. Pete Griffiths
2. Mike Garlick
CH will send out voting forms to do this in between meetings, count the votes and announce the outcome by email
4. Election of a representative from the Supporters Forum to attend the
Coventry City FC Safety Advisory Group (SAG).
1. Frank Smith – (nominated by Dave Eyles Sky Blue Trust Chair)
2. Colin Henderson – Supporters Forum Chair
CH advised that he feels that having a representative from this group is important. He will send out details received from Dave Eyles - DE about Frank Smith so that all members of this group are aware before voting for who will represent this group who he is and his experience for this role.
Mike Garlick (MG) Raised the question of the Safety Advisory Group representative from the club being on this call. DB will include her in future Support Forum meetings in the future.
5. Family Zone up-date
MH as Pat Raybould (PR) not on the call at this point advised that the family zone area has moved back to Blocks 33 / 34 with plans to expand if necessary, in block 35. This will give more space that will be stewarded with a strong encouragement for a family friendly atmosphere. CH asked about fundraising and MH confirmed PR had been very active on social media with support from CCFC where requested for prizes etc
6. Club membership shirt up-date
In response to a question about shirts being re-sent following issues with sizes TS confirmed that they are working through the list and shirts have been sent out this week with some more still to do. CH asked if there was an average time for finding names on the back. TS advised that CCFC had asked for the order to be randomised but it had been further randomised when the shirts were made to appear differently on different sized shirts.
7. Any Other Business
MH UK Sports survey – Come to the club from EFL to talk about people’s experience of lockdown and what sport means to them. Results of which will only help get fans to return in as high numbers and as safely as possible. The link is on the club website. CH advised it didn’t take long to complete and all supporters’ forums were asked to highlight this to their members.
Dave Busst (DB) - wanted to publicly thank the Southam supporters club for their donation of their annual membership to SBITC. This raised £1300 with gift aid. This was matched by a hospital charity and has gone to a Cancer support group for one of the Walking football initiatives.
JB / CH / Southam Supporters group all had trophies for last year’s player of the season – Fankaty Dabo to get to the club to be presented to Fankaty and for some pictures to be taken. D Busst advised that if each group could get their trophy to the reception desk at the Ricoh, he would pick them up from there and pass them on to CCFC.
DE What is the exact location of the club shop and worried about the proximity to the away end. DB advised it is on the bend of the stadium in the south-east corner. The Club is looking at barrier solution in this area too, but there are no safety concerns regarding proximity to away fans.
DB Asked whether there were any questions about Membership / Season tickets that have gone on sale today? TS advised that they have been inundated with emails and questions. All agree to urge their supporters’ groups to read the press released and FAQ’s on the website and to be patient in their expectations of replies to emails and phone calls.
DB explained that the 8,000 figure was agreed in line the PM’s roadmap out of lockdown with the plan to open all restrictions by June 21st. The 8,000 figure is 25% of the capacity of the Ricoh.
DB confirmed total sales for 2021/22 on day 1 stood at 2,607 – including corporate and executive boxes.
8. Date of the next meeting – 29TH April 2021 @ 5.00pm
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