The Plight of Coventry City

coventry-city-fans-protest-against-owners-sisu-during-the-match-at-the-ricoh-arena-coventry-612682296If you ask any football fan born before 1980 to name their top 5 FA Cup matches, they will almost certainly name the 1987 final in which Coventry beat Tottenham 3-2 which included a diving header from Keith Houchen. However 30 years later, the Sky Blues are bottom of the third tier and flirting dangerously with League 2 football next season.

Ever since Coventry’s relegation from the Premier League in 2001, Coventry’s gradual and cruel decline has been particularly difficult to watch from the stands. In 2007, Coventry were bought by hedge fund, SISU. Initially the signs were good and a plan to return to the Premier League was set out. However the years that followed went south, and SISU began to asset strip the club.

The lowest point of SISU’s reign was the temporary relocation to Northampton’s Sixfields stadium, however if a solution isn’t found to the current situation, Coventry could liquidate at the end of the 2017/18 season, and should Coventry leave the city again, then the Football League have stated they will revoke Coventry’s membership within the Football League.

Coventry fans’ pitch protest against owners SISU in the league fixture against Sheffield United.

Coventry’s academy has always produced talent and even more so recently. Players such as Callum Wilson, Cyrus Christie and James Maddison have emerged from Coventry’s youth system, however SISU’s incompetence as owners, means that these players have been sold for nowhere near their value, with Coventry only pocketing £6.25M for the trio who, had they kept for another season, would be worth in excess of £16M. Current players such as Ben Stevenson, Jordan Willis and Cian Harries could also be on their way out of the club in this transfer window.

SISU still make a profit of £1M a year and clearly have no intentions of selling the club. SISU are not running the club in an appropriate manner that would get the club promoted, instead they are looking at the next player they can move on, in order to be able to make a profit. If SISU properly reinvested the money they receive from player sales, Coventry would almost certainly be at least a mid table Championship club. There have been rumours of a possible, Simon Jordan led, consortium take over, however nothing has been officially stated as of yet.

Despite languishing at the bottom of League One and lacking investment, Coventry still manage to attract 10,000 fans at the Ricoh and 1,000 fans away from home consistently. With fans as loyal as this, it makes the proposition of potential owners buying the club even more attractive. The theme of poorly run clubs in this country is a recurring one. Blackpool, Charlton and Nottingham Forest to name a few are clubs with tremendous followings who are run to the point where it is almost criminal. Protests have taken place at some of these clubs, Coventry’s pitch invasion on Sky Sports’ coverage of their fixture against Sheffield United and a joint protest with Charlton where toy pigs were thrown onto the pitch in protest against Charlton’s owners and Coventry’s owners have both gained national coverage.

Ultimately, the fault lies with the Football League and the FA. Allowing these owners who have no intention of developing clubs, but instead to take advantage of its assets and destroy some of this country’s greatest clubs is wrong, and the worse part is, the Football League, as I have previously mentioned, have threatened Coventry with an automatic relegation to the National League should they leave the city, even though this situation would not have arrived if they hadn’t let inept owners take control of football clubs.

SISU out. Roland out. Venky’s out. Oyston out.

Article by Jordan Motib

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