It’s quite a tricky subject this one. I best choose my words carefully.

We all know by now that Tim Fisher (seen above in a hilariously dramatic image from one of the early protest videos) had some trouble in a pub on Saturday. I won’t try to describe what happened as I didn’t witness it, but the most useful and worth-reading assessment I’ve seen came in the Coventry Telegraph from man on the scene Juggy. Cast your eyes over this again:

There must have been about 25 or 20 City fans in there, some we see quite often and a few that we had never seen before. Everyone is having a drink and then suddenly Tim Fisher walks in and went the toilet. Where the toilets were you had to go right through the pub to get to the toilets.

At first when he went in sort of a buzz went up ‘that’s Tim Fisher’. Obviously people have had a drink. Where he came out of the toilets there was a bit of singing going on ‘we want Sisu out’ and all that.

The guy had actually given somebody some money to say get everybody a drink. There was a split, some people were singing and some people were fine saying ‘the guy has just come in to use the toilet, just let him get on with it’.

As he was leaving the chants went up and there were one or two trying to stop him from leaving the pub and then one or two were trying to push them out the way, just saying ‘let the guy go’.

There was no actual glasses or bottles thrown, but somebody threw some beer on him. And then there was a bit of a surge from two or three people and some stools went flying. He was jostled and he was manhandled, there’s no two ways about that.

When he got outside, Steve Waggott was waiting and the two of them made a sharp exit because, obviously, they don’t know how the situation is going to pan out – because everybody started to come out. People were saying ‘go’ because there had been a lot of beer drunk. This situation could have ended with someone getting a smack and then that’s really going to take it to another level.

The general consensus was that this is what happens when fans aren’t given their voice. I’m not condoning it, but people will start taking the law into their own hands.

Let’s be clear, no matter how much I think the guy holds a high level of responsibility for the current predicament, or how much he may deserve some form of retribution given his general manner towards us – the situation we’re in right now is not going to get any better with violence. So in that regard I’m glad things didn’t escalate into something unthinkable.

But when I heard what had happened my honest reaction was one of confusion. Hostility in the pub (however you view it from afar), felt a fairly predictable reaction. What I couldn’t help questioning was Fisher’s presence in the pub in the first place. It was a very bad idea.

Yes, it’s a free country. But you’ve got to show some sense; some sensitivity about the situation. The sane amongst us would all steer clear of an opposition’s pub during match day, especially if you were recognisable as being a Coventry fan. And certainly if you’re the only one. It’s set at the heart of football culture more than anything – you keep away because there have been enough incidents over the course of time to suggest that groups of drunk people aren’t going to show a normal level of rational thought or restraint when it comes to territory. There are no inhibitions when you’re plastered.

Fisher probably feels like he’s on neutral and mostly accepting territory at Sixfields – but at away games, the only games many are attending this season – these strike me as the time for all Coventry City fans to get together again. An away pub can’t really be considered neutral for him – not when 90% of fans want him and the company that he represents out. For all intents and purposes he is the enemy.

He was only going to the toilet. So it’s a passive action, but in many respects this feels like passive provocation. It’s the “stop hitting yourself” scenario, in the eyes of the law and everything else, you’re not doing anything wrong by just nipping to the loo. But in the eyes of passionate and angry fans, this was a daft and potentially reckless decision.

There will be many people out there who couldn’t give a monkeys about him and are glad that he got some grief. There are others who are vehemently against him even being accosted, as it goes far beyond the line of acceptable human behaviour.

Then there are people like me who maybe sit somewhere in the middle.

Do I want to see any man hurt or beaten up? Absolutely not. He’s a bloke with a family, and this is all about football for fuck’s sake. But was I glad to hear that fans had alerted him during his brazen breach of ‘territory’? I won’t lie, him seeing first-hand the anger that he avoids at Sixfields isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Fortunately nothing more than a bit of argy-bargy and drink spilling happened, which we all have to be relieved at. As a group of fans the last thing we want to do is for us to become the bad guys. We’re not the bad guys in this, not by a long chalk. We need to voice our anger and dismay, but we can’t get drawn into doing things which damage the integrity of our stance or morals, and obviously Saturday could have gone too far.

Juggy’s point about not having a voice is an extremely valid one, and it’s that impotent rage which I imagine (alongside the booze) fuelled much of the anger. If there was a forum for reasoned debate, where the views and opinions of the majority were recognised and actually influenced decisions, the situation would feel very different. If your voice is heard, you feel a bit more control.

But to come face-to-face with the man who has shown a perceived wanton disregard to the feelings and desperation of such a large number of fans, in such an enclosed space, after a defeat, where passion and anger would have been rife; it’s an ill-considered decision by Fisher to even contemplate going in, even if he was bursting. If any lessons are to come from what he experienced in there, it’s that maybe this will have provided a real sense of just how much this has angered people. You’d hope to God he already knew that, but just in case, he’s now had the experience in 3D.

The moral of the story? Well, for Coventry City fans – it feels like a warning. Don’t give the people making the decisions any more ammunition to paint you as irrational, donkeys, a hindrance to progress, stupid, an obstacle, or anything other than passionate and desperate for the club to return to the Ricoh. For me, that is our defiant message – and it should remain unchanged throughout all of this. This incident was a let off for all concerned – we should now learn from it.

And Tim – just hold it in next time. Show some awareness of how your actions may be interpreted by others for a change. It’ll be better, and safer, for everyone.

(To think this used to be a blog about football…)

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19 comments

  1. Good article, Tim fisher strikes me as a bit of an old time London idiot (aka) thug himself, he probably went into the pub knowing full well what was in there.

  2. You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with how I’m thinking about this. I definitely agree with the points from your final two paragraphs. Surely TF can’t be that dim regarding the likely reaction to him entering the pub.

  3. I for one am just glad he wasn’t properly attacked. As soon as we turn to violence, we become the villains and SISU have something to use against us. I personally think Fisher going into the pub, to try and provoke the fans, and thank god he wasn’t hurt.

  4. I too am glad that Mr Fisher was not seriously hurt. However, if true, the action of tossing some money at the fans and telling them to get a drink on me displays an amazing arrogance, completely in keeping with the way SISU have treated the fans over the whole affair.

  5. I broadly agree with the drift of the blog. However, I don’t hate Tim Fisher as some fans seem to. I buy into the policy of the ground share at Sixfields, in order to put pressure on the Labour Council to sell the ground the our football club. I don’t agree with the myth that SISU always intended to distress the Council/ACL in order to pick up the Ricoh for nothing or on the cheap! This myth is utterly illogical, because why would SISU wait 6 years and incur £70 million debts (Lionel Bird, CCFC historian and SBT board member’s estimation)?
    I fully understand many of the fans being upset and even angry, but I don’t understand the formal boycott, because it is illogical and it hurts the club, the fans claim to love and is in effect self-harming!
    I won’t rerun all the arguments, but I honestly believe that logically, SISU were forced out by the Labour Council, who were clearly trying to distress our football club and in effect treat the club like a franchise, by attempting to steal the club from its legal and rightful owner and hand it over to an owner of its choice! How was Preston Haskell IV, an American tycoon and property developer a better prospective owner than an owner that had a known record and had supported the club for 5 years and had subsidised the club at that time to the tune of £50 million?
    The club had tried for over 5 years to persuade the Council to vary the eye watering terms imposed on the then chairman and main backer, Geoffrey Robinson of CCFC, or indeed to sell the Ricoh to the club. The Labour Council refused and after the club were relegated to the 1st Division (3rd Division), the club went on a rent strike in order to bring the Labour Council to the table. The Council was recalcitrant and eventually served 3rd Party Debt Orders on the club with the intention of stopping the club from trading. When that didn’t work, the Labour Council forced the club into administration and an automatic 10 points deduction by the FL. On the day before the football season started, the Labour Council then refused to accept the CVA and thereby forcing another points deduction on the club. The FL looked at this and only imposed a 10 points deduction on our club. No-one expected only a 10 points deduction, the previous minimum was 15 points and it could have been as much as 30 points. The FL clearly looked at this and decided that the club had been treated unfairly by the landlord the Labour Council. It is clear from this that the Labour Council wanted to distress our football club by trying to get the it relegated and pile financial pressure on our club. There has been huge propaganda from the Coventry Telegraph (owned by Trinity Mirror whose non-executive director is none other than Gary Hoffman) and the Sky Blue Trust and the Keep Coventry in Coventry campaign of whom there is some suspicion are proxies for the Labour Council. Even despite all this propaganda I find it hard to understand why people don’t lay the major blame at the door of the Labour Council! I could go on but I will leave it there for now.
    I may be the little boy in the crowd that thinks the Labour Council is totally naked, but I will carry on stating where I think the blame truly lies for this situation. Even the so-called rent free offer, was made via the Administrator, Paul Appleton and offered to Coventry City FC Ltd., that the Council had forced into administration and ultimately liquidation and NOT the owner of the on-going CCFC! It was more propaganda to make the club seem unreasonable.
    I am not missing the point of your blog but there is no point in me simply repeating all the mostly valid points you make.
    However, one of your points was that he contributed to the fracas because he should have known better and should not have gone into the pub. But, is that not like saying that an attractive girl who wears a short skirt deserves to be raped? This is utterly wrong!
    Tim Fisher may have a prostate problem, but in any case if he was caught short why should he not be able to pop into any pub without being concerned after his safety? One person argued that he should have gone to the toilet at Brentford or should have found a public toilet. Well he probably did use the toilet at Brentford and everyone knows how difficult it is to find a public toilet when you need one. He probably did not know that there would be a mob of City fans in the pub.

  6. I am sorry but something happened and my comments were posted before I had finished or had edited and proofed read them.

  7. Tim Fisher has four minders with him at all times at Soggyfields so there is little chance of anyone being able to have anything other than a verbal exchange.

  8. The problem seems to be if you go back to review your original blog the author is frozen out and the comments are posted!
    I don’t buy into the argument that the club didn’t listen to the fans. In fact the club organised 3 fans’ forums, which for this club and I would think most clubs, this is a precedent, in order to consult and inform the fans. I would argue in fact that the fans didn’t listen to the club. The club, no matter how regrettable, were forced into the temporary move to Northampton, which was fully backed by the FL! There is no future for our club unless it takes ownership of its own ground, full stop! Geoffrey Robinson lost a personal fortune of £21 million and couldn’t wait to get out and SISU have lost £70 million to date, what is there not to understand? Many of the fans at the fans’ forums did not listen but thought they could bully, shout down and threaten the club into backing down from the only rational decision it could take. There is clearly going to be a lot of pain in the short term, but the phrase “making a drama out of a crisis” comes to mind. No matter how difficult, the fans should have accepted the fact and moved on and just got on with it and continued to support their club through a very difficult time.
    The common opinion too, seems to be that Tim Fisher has a poor manner, etc.. But given the mob like attitude of many of the fans towards him and all the hysterical attacks and propaganda against him and SISU, I think he has borne up remarkably well under the circumstances. Most people, including me, would not have been able to cope with the vilification and personal attacks that he has had to cope with. He and SISU have been put under a siege from all sides by the Telegraph, the SBT and the KCIC campaign and many of the misguided fans. Under the circumstances Tim Fisher has kept calm and carried on with his job remarkably well.
    I very much agree with you, that a big part of the fans anger is the fact that they feel powerless. But if it wasn’t for all the propaganda organised against the club and if the fans had tried to listen and think for themselves, maybe just more of them would have bought into the plan that the club had no alternative but to ground share at Sixfields and would have accepted the medium term pain for a long term gain.
    If the club had listened, as you put it and changed its policy on the ground share, the club would have continued its long term decline. There is no future for the club in a landlord/tenant relationship especially when it is clear that it has broken down irretrievably. Your argument would be that they should get back together for the sake of the kids. No!
    I estimate that if the club owned the Ricoh, lock stock and barrel, it would be able to more than double the turnover in its last financial year at the Ricoh! All that extra money and the outgoings it would save would be available to put on the pitch, its as simple as that! Why can’t more of the fans see that, even someone like the blogger, who is obviously an intelligent man?
    Many fans are brainwashed and bigoted against the owner and they don’t even realise it, that is the power of propaganda. You don’t have to like SISU or Tim Fisher, but you must see that the club needs to own its own ground in order to progress. SISU can take all the blame if you like, but if it can unite the club with its ground, it will have done us all a massive favour.
    Juggy and the blogger by default seems to be saying that they don’t condone the violence but that they understand it! Well I don’t! I don’t understand it at all, and by saying things like that, you are kind of excusing and condoning the violence. I can argue there are mitigating circumstances for the violence but I can’t say that I understand it, I don’t! Tim Fisher may not have suffered any serious injury, but I am sure that that was a very frightening incident for him indeed. Thank goodness there were some fair minded people there with some common sense!
    Finally whatever you think about SISU and Tim Fisher, they have supported our club to the tune of £70 million over the last 6 1/4 years and you can’t simply just brush that aside as if it is of no consequence.

  9. Covgaz, I don’t agree with you, how can you justify he was arrogant buying the fans some beer? For people like you, who are so bigoted, he can’t do right for doing wrong! Have you ever had anything good to say about Tim Fisher or SISU? I doubt it. Surely buying someone a drink is a friendly gesture, if it is not accepted it surely can’t be the fault of the giver.

    1. Peter you really are filling up this discussion with hot air. If you have repeatedly ignored your fans and generally treated them with contempt, walking into a pub and throwing a few pennies at them ‘because they’re working class football fans and beer will placate them’ is the height of arrogance. It also comes across that you are incredibly arrogant , u call people bigoted and envious as if your better than them just because they have a different view from u. You talk about the fans who have boycotted sixfields as tho they’re a rabble, these people may seem alien to u peter but that’s because they have integrity and unlike yourself stand up for what they believe in, a football club for the fans not a plaything of some uber capitalist hedge fund.

  10. Harry Lewis, you just demonstrate the bigotry that I have talked about. How can a man going into a “Public House” for a pee, be intended to provoke their violence when a) he was desperate and b) he would not have known, their was a mob out to get him? We know that Tim Fisher and his family have been threatened with violence and been subjected to the poisoned pen. But he and SISU have never tried to make a big deal out of it or involved the police. He is not reporting this incident to the police, so how has he and SISU ever sought to use these sort of incidents against the fans? They haven’t, so sadly you have demonstrated your own bigotry. You don’t even realise your own prejudice and blindness!

  11. Beach Man Tango, I haven’t missed a home game at Sixfields and have never noticed anyone minding Tim Fisher, as you put it. Your comment that there is little chance of anyone being able to have anything other than a verbal exchange with him, I find disturbing. Are you saying that you would like a physical exchange with him?
    On the contrary, Tim Fisher always makes himself available to the fans, before, after and at half time. I have seen many fans having a debate with him, as I have and Juggy Chima for example. Why don’t you stop making your prejudgements and come along and have a debate with him at Sixfields? You might surprise yourself, or haven’t you got the courage?

  12. I won’t pick out any other people’s comments to criticise at this stage, but it sadly proves my point that so many of City’s fans are bigoted and have made their minds up and aren’t prepared to think anything different.
    Nowadays you quite rightly can’t discriminate against a person’s sex, race, religion or disability etc., but it is still okay to discriminate against capitalists and wealthy people, because they must be cheats or have cheated their way to wealth and we are suspicious of their motives aren’t we and we are as envious as hell aren’t we?

  13. Ahh the infamous Sisu sychophant is putting everyone “right” again. Pete , when are you going to realise it’s you who are in the minority on this one . Sisu could buy the Ricoh BUT the council are , by law , not allowed to sell it to them at below market value . Also ACL have 40 yrs left on the lease . How much to compensate if the lease is broken .
    Sisu should have bought the Higgs half share at the reported 6 million , which is less than they will lose this season playing in front of you and a few others at Sixfields.
    They have destroyed CCFC but your blind hate of a Labour council seems to blind you to the fact that SISU are mainly to blame for our situation.

  14. I think this is a great read, and incredibly well put. I agree with alot of the comments. He went in to use the bog, it was foolish, but he has every right. I dont think he wanted to cause trouble, else he would have done, but he tried his best and offered drinks to everybody. SISU are the decision makers, he’s just the front man.
    I believe that too many people hold SISU to blame for the entire mess, whereas I believe ACL are equally to blame along with the council, and people that feel this way are told they are “pro-sisu”, the same as people who attend the games. People who attend the home games have the same rights as the people who only attend away games or people that chose not to go at all, These people will not be “pro-sisu” howerer “Pro-CCFC” who just cant bear to miss a season or however many. Nobody will be happy that we are playing in northampton infront of 10% of our fan base, 35miles away from home but we shouldnt be fighting against ourselves, or Tim Fisher.
    One day we will be back within the city, the sooner the better is all I can say. At the start of the season alot of people missed out on the brilliant football we played, and I hope that SP can keep the momentum just to see us through the season.

  15. A good, well considered piece, thanks. I can’t fault the conclusions in the penultimate paragraph. I would also point out that this incident exemplifies how something relatively trivial, though not excusable, gets amplified in the re-telling and painted in a far worse light. ‘Somebody threw some beer on him’ becomes ‘glasses & bottles were thrown’; ‘There was a bit of a surge … and some stools went flying’ (I read that as knocked over) = ‘chairs were thrown’; ‘There must have been about 25 or 20 City fans in there’ = ‘Fisher attacked by around 20 City Fans’.
    Juggy is the only person I have read / heard who was willing to be attributed, other accounts appear to be ‘sources close to Tim Fisher’ etc. which I would always be guarded about, although Simon Gilbert from the Coventry Telegraph assured me that he felt the information supplied was reliable.
    Particularly in the current situation where Sisu seem to be on the offensive against anyone who does not actively support them, let’s not give them a stick to beat us with. And an appeal to local reporters: please keep matters in proportion and ensure that your sources do the same.

  16. I wonder what Peter Chambers thinks a Conservative Council would do ……? Especially considering the one thing all parties agree on is the stance taken on The Ricoh Arena.

  17. Dale M, I am not a sycophant, and I know how to spell the word and what it means. I am a very honest and fair minded person who likes to see fair play and I feel that our football club has been subjected to tremendous propaganda and persecuted. I think I am right of course, and so do you and everyone else, is that a crime? I may be in a minority but so what, I am expected to shut up because I am a minority? I am certainly not in a minority of one! Surely the beauty of a free country is that minorities have a right to be heard and speak their minds and not be oppressed by the thought police!
    Fine Dale, in that case why doesn’t the Council have a public and independent valuation of the Ricoh and sell the ground to the club?

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