It has become clear that certain Coventry City supporters and even some Sky Blue Trust members believe that our board as an agenda which favours Wasps Rugby Club.
Despite radio and newspaper interviews which have made our position clear, this misguided view persists.
The fact is that the only sporting club which is close to our hearts is Coventry City. To that end, we have been involved in conversations with stakeholders surrounding the future of our beloved club.
In recent months, we have had one meeting with Wasps, one with Coventry City Council; and one with The English Football League.
Our only motivation was to persuade all three parties to be more proactive to get the Sky Blues back to Coventry. Each of the parties demanded the meetings were confidential so no minutes could be published.
On each occasion, we made an emotional plea - stating that the people being hurt by Coventry City's absence were mainly the thousands of supporters, including the elderly and infirm, who cannot get to Birmingham.
All three stressed that they wanted the football club back in Coventry. We would be delighted to have a similar meeting with Coventry City and act as a glue if need be.
After the meeting with the council, we submitted formal Freedom of Information requests, particularly surrounding any planned new ground in Coventry. The answers were published.
In the EFL's case, an agreed statement was made and we published a press release accordingly.
After the Wasps' meeting, the rugby club reiterated the position it stated at the meeting with a press statement very shortly afterwards, so we, probably incorrectly, did not put out a release because it would have been saying the same thing.
At that meeting, we asked about the indemnity demand by Wasps and were told that it was 'commercially sensitive'.
Nevertheless, we have followed the meeting with a recent letter to Wasps, Chief Executive, Nick Eastwood, which is published below.
In a phone call response, he has told us again that it is commercially sensitive.
The Trust board continues to work, unstintingly, to get Coventry City back in Coventry. We are sorry to disappoint conspiracy theorists but that is all there is to it. We are volunteers who are all passionate fans of long-standing. If we can successfully bring people together to our common goal, we will be delighted.
The truth is that, while the team is playing brilliantly and will, hopefully, be promoted this season, many people are not getting to see them because of the exile in Birmingham.
Therefore we want all parties to get together to resolve this unhappy state of affairs.
Letter to Wasps.
Dear Mr Eastwood
Firstly I hope this e-mail finds you well and in good form.
You will recall that you met with a group of Sky Blue Trust Board Members on 16th October last for what was a very frank and wide-ranging meeting concerning Coventry City FC and the impasse concerning the Sky Blues returning to play at the Ricoh Arena. You ended that meeting by indicating that you would be more than willing to speak with or respond to us (or indeed any other Coventry City fans) if in the future, we had questions or views that we wished to put to you about this unfolding situation.
I am writing to you on behalf of the Trust in the spirit of your offer to ask two broad questions which are prompted by our deep concern over the current and future viability of CCFC in financial terms, and for the Club as part of the culture and tradition of our City, as a result of continuing to play in Birmingham rather than at the Ricoh.
First, as we raised back in October, there is a widely held feeling that Wasps could gain significantly from allowing CCFC to play at the Ricoh. Doing so would not affect the outcome or costs of any legal proceedings, would bring rental income to Wasps and could give a significant boost to Wasps’ reputation locally and regionally. Wasps have stressed their commitment to Coventry as a city and as a community yet CCFC’s continuing exile is disenfranchising a significant part of that community – those who support, value and care about our football club. We are asking you, therefore – Will you seriously and actively consider allowing the Sky Blues to play back at the Ricoh as soon as is possible and re-open negotiations?
In considering this you may have noted that the Trust has elicited positive responses from Coventry City Council in terms of their desire to see the Sky Blues back in the City and from the EFL who have indicate a willingness to engage with any of the parties to the dispute should those parties deem that to be helpful.
Second, we are of course aware of the action being taken by Coventry City’s owners under EU legislation which could have serious impacts on Wasps. We do realise the possible risks for Wasps as a business in the shorter and longer term should this action be pursued by SISU. We assume that the ‘indemnity’ requirement that has been discussed in the press is an attempt to mitigate these risks. However, while it appears to be the nature of this indemnity which is the immediate cause of the current Wasps-CCFC impasse, there is currently no information on the indemnity in the public domain. While we do understand the nature of business negotiations and confidentiality, can you please let us know what this indemnity is and what it is designed to ‘cover’ – is it in the form of a ‘deposit’ against future actions detrimental to Wasps, against future legal costs, against any future claim against Wasps arising from judicial decisions or simply a form of insurance? What do you see as the possibilities for the indemnity to be negotiated in terms of its size or nature, or even in terms of the very necessity for it?
In sum, the need for the Sky Blues to play in the city and the role that the indemnity issue is playing in the current situation are not only central to the very existence of the Club but are central to the lives of huge numbers of people in the City. We are at a critical juncture.
We look forward to hearing your response
Dave Eyles (Chair of the Sky Blue Trust)