An Open Letter From a Coventry City Fan

We received this letter from a concerned Coventry City fan, to George Duggins of the Coventry City Council.

The Sky Blues plight is tragic, something no football fan wishes upon another matter not what colours you wear.

We’re delighted to give the letter a platform.

 

Dear George (may I call you George, from one to another?),

I’m a Coventrian of 1972 vintage (I have a ‘button in my cap’). I’ve been SkyBlue since I could kick a football and went to Highfield Road so, so, so many times from the age of 5. My girls (now 24 and 22) were brought up SkyBlue and my granddaughter of 5 weeks has already been signed up. My whole family were at the last game at Highfield Road and celebrated at the first together in the Ricoh. Although I live overseas now, I still travel back 5 or 6 times a year to watch the SkyBlues.

Like most City fans, I understand how you have zero desire to deal with SISU/ Otium given their proven track record over the awful past decade. They have behaved disgracefully, and I can see the logic in a Council under continued legal action ‘taking a stance’. But this matter is bigger than this simple logic, and I believe you have a duty to take a different position.

In reality the legal risk to you and your Council from SISU is negligible. SISU have lost at every step of the way in their calamitous court battle and in the unlikely event that their case gets to the Supreme Court, there is nothing to suggest they will be successful. I can’t remember a single court case in relation to CCFC that SISU have ever won, so I’d be fairly relaxed if I were you.

I’ll be honest, I hate that the Ricoh was sold to Wasps and I believe Coventry City Council betrayed the people of Coventry with the sale. The 250-year lease was spiteful as was the ‘sucker punch’ timing so soon after the exile to Northampton.

The ‘franchise’ model of sports clubs is a threat to traditional clubs with community roots; the role of Coventry’s elected representatives should have been to preserve and nourish the roots of our home-grown sports clubs. Instead you took the shiny offer from London Wasps. It galls to see you basking in the adulation of the Wasps crowd in a black and gold scarf.

But I’m also realistic. I realise that Wasps (alongside Trump, Putin and Satan himself) are preferable business partners to SISU. I understand too that their plan to indoctrinate the youth of Coventry with free ticket confetti, to ‘shiny spectaculars’ may see them as a permanent feature.

But their presence in the City will never be accepted by many who might otherwise be won round, if Wasps keep to their current position and evict the Sky Blues. Coventry City are overdue with the required assurances to the EFL that they have somewhere to play next season. Wasps will never be forgiven by thousands, if they are seen to be an accessory to the murder of Coventry City FC. Surely that makes appalling business sense?

Conversely, Wasps could go a long way to convince many with a unilateral gesture of goodwill to the City by confirming they won’t evict. On a purely business level, it isn’t wise to alienate tens of thousands of potential customers over a legal case with a 99% failure likelihood. A promise, and a public statement that Wasps were ‘doing it for the City and fans’ could be milked for PR forevermore and even I, as a Wasps-hater, would be grudgingly grateful.

As the Council Leader, I have no doubt you could persuade Wasps to make such a gesture.

On the ‘New Stadium’; You, I, and every other George out there with half a brain knows that SISU will not build Coventry City a new stadium. SkyBlues fans recognise insane SISU-logic when they argue the Council are ‘getting in the way of a new stadium’ by not funding and providing one (with associated infrastructure) gift-wrapped. We realise that giving SISU anything at all would be ludicrous and completely understand why you do not wish to prolong your association with them. Cov fans feel exactly the same way.

But please consider the side-effects of yours and Wasps’ current stance. In the event that the EFL allow it (and that is by no means certain) Coventry City would have play outside the City again. That would be hideous. I was one of the 85% of the home crowd who never set foot inside Sixfields and so much was taken away from us all in that horrible time. It would be cruel to allow that to happen again, when you have the power to prevent it.

It is a genuine risk that City could be refused permission to play elsewhere and be ejected by the EFL. The football club would no longer be viable as a business and SISU will liquidate it as a tax write-off. Farewell forever Coventry City FC.

Sure, a Phoenix club a la AFCW is appealing to many, but in reality, that is only because it rids us of SISU. The truth is that it’s an awful prospect only marginally better than the inevitable Coventry Wasps alternative that will no doubt be served up after a respectful mourning period (maybe 2 seasons?). This is the worst of all worlds. Armageddon. Theft of a club to support for me, my sister, my children, my granddaughter and so many thousands of SkyBlues.

There is an easy solution. Think of the people of Coventry. Make Wasps keep to their promise to allow CCFC to play at the Ricoh. Honour the promise made by your predecessor, that the sale of the Ricoh to Wasps would never threaten the security or future of Coventry City at the Ricoh. Never again utter the mealy-mouthed words “we only meant for 4 years.”

Let SISU’s legal battle flounder (as it soon will) and do what us fans have been doing for years – ignore their lies, false promises and tantrums and work to get them out without destroying the club. Hope beyond hope for enough on-field success to make the club sellable at a price SISU will accept and the nightmare will be over. In the meantime, in solidarity with long-suffering fans, please take a pro-active approach and encourage Nick Eastwood to do the same. That is the only hope.

 

In Robins we Trust.

 

George Rowland

 

 

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