A major criticism from the floor was the paucity, timing and content of our COMMUNICATIONS with Members. This included Facebook (in part) but, mainly, our e-mails/mail-outs, our website, our Twitter account and our engagement with Sky Blue Talk and supporters websites. In these respects in was argued that:
- We do not directly communicate sufficiently frequently with Members. When we do so, outside of emails and the website, it is often unclear whether it is the Trust who are posting or individuals known to be associated with the Trust and its Board but engaging in their own right.
- We are not proactive enough in leading debates on issues or in publicising what we are doing or have done. The positive (and in some cases ‘amazed’) response to David Johnson’s briefing on the meetings and engagement that the Trust has had with all parties in the current dispute is a clear sign of this. Many people don’t seem to know what we are doing - though in some cases that maybe because they don’t actually care.
- Our response on all media is often far too slow. By the time a response appears the issue or matter which we are addressing has ‘moved on’, or is no longer of immediate interest, or it is already ‘settled’ in the view of participating fans. Playing catch up like this can make us seem – indeed, makes us – irrelevant.
- With difficult ‘policy’ matters which need decision, we should carry out more, simple (yes/no) surveys of members to gauge their views. This would make members feel more involved.
- Finally, the content of our communications in the widest sense came in for criticism. This primarily focused on the actual or perceived anti-SISU bias that the Trust betrays while ignoring the role of other parties in the crisis – crises – facing the Club. CCC, Wasps and EFL should face major challenge and criticism for the role that they have played in, and leading up to, the crisis.
Taking up the latter, is the Trust simply ANTI-SISU?
- It was recognised that the roots of the reformed Trust and the dramatic increase in membership lay in the period leading up to and being at Sixfields. The expansion in Trust membership, the pathetic crowds at Sixfields, the Trust organised demonstrations and marches, and the fact CCFC were forced back to Coventry clearly indicated where fans thought the ‘fault’ lay. That reinforced a belief in the principles of the Trust – the significance of fan influence, a need to bring stability and foresight to the Club and to re-establish it as part of the community – and in the belief that SISU were not worthy of the ownership of our Club.
- The feeling that SISU’s previous and current actions are a major cause of CCFC’s current difficulties was not disputed by the Members at the AGM. However, the clear and strongly held views of a significant number of those present were that there were OTHER PARTIES who are also implicated in the current mess and impasse. Significantly for the Trust Board, we were perceived to be exempting those parties from scrutiny and challenge in respect of their roles in the current events and those of the recent past. We were seen by some as being too cosy with Wasps and Coventry City Council (CCC) – even supporting them - while hounding SISU. The facts here could be strongly disputed by the Board in many cases, and we will be indicating why, but that is not the point – we have appeared to many people to be acting in this way and we are perceived to have done little in terms of action or communication to challenge that perception.
- Thus, questions arose as to, for example, why our reaction and responses to the CCC ‘guarantee’ that City would always play at the Ricoh or CCC’s murky and (allegedly) underhand sale of the Ricoh to Wasps had not been more widely questioned or, indeed, questioned at all by us. What about the ‘moral’ aspect of not selling the stadium to the City’s own club? And why have we appeared not to have pushed CCC to do more in the present crisis, given that they have wider responsibilities (to members of the Sky Blue and broader communities) not just those they have as the Ricoh’s ultimate owner? There was a mixture of indifference and, in the main, mild opposition to the presence of Wasps at the Ricoh. While there was a general understanding of Wasps’ position re: not allowing CCFC at the Ricoh, the fact remains that Wasps have the veto on this and have now exercised it – and all City fans want City to play there. Why did the Trust not challenge Wasps on this and/or more vigorously pressurise CCC to do so, given CCC’s Ricoh responsibilities and their expressed desire to see ‘Cov in Cov’.
- The final group to come in for criticism was the EFL. Briefly, the Members despaired of the EFL, its inability (perhaps by its nature) to manage or regulate the League appropriately and its similar inability to be able to control or determine when, if and how CCFC will return to the City. There was a need for the Trust to both discover exactly what the conditions were that the EFL had supposedly imposed on CCFC’s exile at St Andrews and to monitor the fulfilment of those conditions.