A voice from the stands
This month’s blog looks at the announcement that Coventry City will be, once again, playing their home games away from the City…
Never again? Here we go, again…
So, it’s a repeat of the 2013/14 season and watching our ‘home’ games outside of Coventry.
There will be some looking at a ‘blame game’, and if that is the case, then in reality, let’s look back to 2014 when the situation wasn’t resolved upon our return to the Ricoh…even after what seemed like a ‘glorious’ return ‘celebrated’ by 27,000 fans against Gillingham in front of the SKY cameras.
Those responsible for bringing us back from Northampton (and that includes some individuals who are no longer associated with the club) did not repair the relationship which saw us leave in the first place. The introduction of Wasps as a third party just made a tricky situation a whole lot trickier.
What concerns me is not the past, but the present and the future. There are several areas of serious concern which should be recognised by every supporter.
Firstly, for the supporters.
There will be some who want to support the manager and players no matter where they play and every supporter who wants to do this must be allowed to do so without criticism. The move to Northampton saw plenty of in-fighting amongst the fan-base, but largely from those not attending criticising those who did. Ok, name calling can be shrugged off, but it was more than that in some cases.
One thing that the supporters must not do this time around is claim that everyone is free to choose to attend ‘home’ games, and then criticise them when their choice is not what they agree with.
Then we have the manager.
In a nutshell, the move to St. Andrews does impact upon recruitment. It must do. Naturally, revenue will be significantly reduced from fewer season tickets and attendances in general. Even Mark Robins admitted (at the Awards Evening) that gates of 3-5,000 ‘…do not work for us.’. So, whatever signings were in the pipeline must be in jeopardy with a lesser transfer and wage budget.
There will also be some players who would have only signed for CCFC if we had played at the Ricoh.
One positive on the playing side is that the surface at St. Andrews is far superior to that at the Ricoh, and that will help us play the one-touch passing which the team displayed so impressively in the latter part of the season.
The off-field staff are often ignored when it comes to sympathy in these situations, but they are probably more affected than the manager and players.
The likes of Tynan Scope, Mark Hornby and Suzette will have to work even harder to generate revenue…all in the face of negativity from some supporters and reduced commercial activities, and what of the ladies, led by the legend that is Shelagh, in the ticket office? Their lives will become even harder due to a situation which is not of their making. It may be a passion for us supporters, but it is these people’s livelihoods at stake, so let’s not forget their commitment.
Finally, we have the hierarchy at the club, and I refer to those running the club on a day-to-day basis.
Dave Boddy will no doubt face flak from some quarters but this is not a situation of his making. No one can doubt that he has engaged openly with the supporters and brought the club closer to the faithful. Unlike his predecessor, Boddy has followed up his words with actions and under his stewardship the club has seen stability on the pitch and some much needed financial investment. We weren’t privy to the details of the negotiations but Boddy seemed to be more conciliatory in his approach and kept talks going as long as he could, but he wasn’t dealt a ‘great hand’ by the owners.
It’s a desperately sad situation and one that no supporter should be put through…let alone twice. As far as possible, we need to stick together – supporters, manager, players, backroom staff and off-field staff. Hopefully, there will be no vitriol aimed at supporters who simply want to support the manager and players and that they will be free to choose whether they travel to St. Andrews or not.
In an era where we demand that democracy must prevail, let’s hope that this principle of freedom of choice also applies to the loyal supporters of Coventry City.