Timing is everything. This piece was written prior to the news/rumour that Sisu have put the club into admin. Regardless of that, it doesn’t change the fact that I wanted to see the season out and my feelings remain the same, even if that scenario is no longer possible. Clearly this post will feel a little redundant but I will keep it available as a reminder of a time when the football actually meant something. Ta, Neil (18.40 – 21/03/13)

Friday is judgment day. To help legal dipsticks like me out, the Cov Telegraph have outlined what they believe to be the three possible outcomes:

  1. Sisu decide to place the club into administration themselves, maintaining some semblance of control over the situation, especially with regards to appointing the administrator.
  2. Sisu ask very kindly for adjournment of the case to allow them more time to prepare their defence, thus avoiding any points deduction – for now. Apparently this is most likely. Whether it’s accepted is another matter.
  3. The judge doesn’t like the look of the figures one jot and places Coventry City into administration, thus costing us 10 points and rendering the remaining games of the season, our very realistic chase for the play-offs, and the months of emotion, money and effort gone into the campaign well and truly meaningless.

Once again I have my football fan head on here. No matter how hard I try to rationalise, I simply can’t bring myself to accept our season being thrown away at this point. During my time as a Coventry City fan we’ve lived in both the past and the future – harking back to the FA Cup every two seconds or deferring all achievement to next season with our relentless “building” year mentality and acceptance of mediocrity. Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to focus on the here and now? What we can actually do, as a football team, this season. This isn’t an argument about who’s right or wrong in this – I’m discussing my view on what I hope the outcome will be. I know this won’t be a choice we can make now the courts are involved, but here’s my two penneth..

Points-wise, this is the best opportunity we’ve had in decades to achieve something football-related, something which would offer the club, its fans and the city as a whole a genuine boost. Discarding all the hard work that has gone into this campaign when there are only a few more weeks left; I’m really struggling to get on board with that. As much as I want a stable and sustainable footing for this club, I’ve got a lifetime of non-achievement jabbing away at my conscience here. It’s ready to explode if yet another opportunity is allowed to fall from our grasp. I’m still waking up in cold sweats from the JPT debacle.

That’s not to say I’m ignorant to the alternative opinion. I completely understand and respect the other side of the argument; this idea of a swift resolution followed by a long-term, sensible approach to our growth. I do get why some people want a completely fresh start from Sisu – now. But – and I speak from a personal perspective here – I think I’m constitutionally incapable of changing my mind on this issue of the points deduction. I look at that league table, the position we find ourselves in, and I want – probably need – to see how it pans out.

At our core we all want our club to succeed. Of course we do. The way I see it, sending us into admin now not only destroys another season when we’re so close to doing that, but offers absolutely no guarantee one way or the other of what’s to come in the future. Just look at Blackburn, sacking Steve Kean when they were in the play-offs, or Middlesbrough getting rid of Southgate because his face didn’t fit (no jokes, please), even though they too had a play-off spot written all over them. When you look at the salient facts and performance on the pitch, they are worse off now. No closer to achieving their goal of promotion. They threw away something which may have not been perfect or as emphatic as they would like, but it was a position in which they were still primed to achieve. They panicked even though the footballing signs said otherwise, put their hope in the grass being greener and have ended up struggling to stabilise ever since.

Now I know that’s a tenuous comparison, but I think the sentiment is still valid. At least if we’re given the opportunity to complete the current campaign, we retain some form of control over our own immediate future on the pitch. We’ve seen how well we’ve done to get into the play-off mix this season after such a dreadful start. Even looking at 2013 (where the form has felt patchy), we’re actually still the 4th best performing team in this division. Take that form right back to November 1, and we’re the 2nd best team in the entire league.

If we avoid that deduction, we can make the play-offs. I know we’ve all forgotten (or have no concept of) what achievement feels like, but don’t be scared about that statement – we’re only 3 points off now, with 7 games to go. The chance is there for us to take.

But not only that, if we don’t manage it this year, who says we can’t retrieve 10 points back next season too? It’ll be harder, but let’s not forget, we spent the first two months of this season in catastrophic decline and have played catch up ever since. On October 1 this season, we were 23rd in the league, 11 points off Walsall in play-offs and 15 off Tranmere. How is that table looking now? We’re 3 points off Tranmere and level with Walsall – all during a season where we’ve thrown away over 30 points from winning positions.

We have done well this season to pull ourselves back into position, but have messed up plenty of times and still, even after all those disappointments, find ourselves with top 2 form since November. That’s the thing you have to remember. We work ourselves up into a frenzy about the potential difficulties of retrieving yourselves from a reduction at the beginning of a campaign, but it doesn’t always have to be so black and white. It’s harder, but it’s by no means impossible. I think most of us agree that with a bit of backbone and experience of the league, we would (and should) have torn this division up this year.

So why am I focusing so much on the future if I started this piece talking about looking at the present? Well I bring it up because many fans are so adamant about the impact of a deduction on our chances. They think it’s an immediate killer for next season as well, especially looking at what happened with Portsmouth. But it’s when you start to make that comparison, where the argument begins to fall apart.

Let’s look at the scenarios if we do postpone administration until the summer:

  1. We don’t make the play-offs this year. We start next season with a points deduction, but with these new owners (that idea is at the core of the “admin now, not later” argument, is it not?), we’re afforded a more stable and FFP viable footing, a fresh start and hopefully a determination to finally achieve in League One having missed out the previous season?
  2. We do make the play-offs but don’t go up. Same again. We start next season with a points deduction, but with new owners, a more stable and FFP viable footing, a fresh start and hopefully a determination to finally achieve in League One having missed out the previous season?
  3. We make the play-offs, and gain promotion having had a day at Wembley and given most fans the best day in their lives. We do however start the next season in the Championship with a points deduction. BUT with these brand spanking new owners, a more stable footing, fresh start and momentum to give ourselves a fair shot at finishing 10 points off relegation.

OK, it may seem as though I’m being simplistic, but if I’ve understood the arguments correctly, the key aim of admin from the fans’ perspective is to force Sisu out and start afresh next season. How does a delay until the Summer really affect the long term stability that’s craved? Those who want that will still get their wish if Sisu go (which is the carrot that’s been dangled if we go into admin), but at the very worst will have to start next season with a 10 points deduction in League One. I don’t know about you, but with the freshness of new owners, financial fairness and knowing what we know now about what is required to succeed in this league, I think I’ll take my chances with that, thanks very much.

At this point there may be the inclination to argue about what happens if we don’t get new owners in the Summer. Sure, there’s no guarantee that will happen. But if that’s the case, then there will have been literally no point in going into administration this season anyway. We’d potentially avoid a points hit next season, but would still be in exactly the same mess that many are fighting against now.

Many will call my view short-sighted, but all we’re asking for is a few more weeks. This saga has been rumbling on for years. Really, what’s a few more weeks, especially when we were led to believe the council bailed out ACL? Is there genuine financial urgency to recoup this money in the next 6 weeks? If there isn’t, then I for one am praying we find a way of holding out until the summer.

I’ve tossed this argument around in my head ever since the threat of admin became a reality. I’m not financial expert. I’m just a football fan who wants to see his team finally achieve something on the pitch, and from my seat as an obsessive fan like the rest of you – focusing on the final 7 games of this season offers the most viable and immediate option for doing that.

Don’t take my chance of Wembley away from me just yet. If there’s any possibility of deferring this admin a little while longer, I for one would welcome it. It may not be ethical, but it’s not my job as a fan to deal with the rights and wrongs of this situation. There’s a hell of a lot of politics at play, spin and conjecture. But at its core we’re looking at conflict between two very different business perspectives – I can’t see why that has to impact on the work our team has done over the last 7 months. Let’s deal with all that in the Summer and for now, allow the team what they deserve – the opportunity to finish what they have started.

If it doesn’t work out this season, fair enough. But at least we will have given it a go. Administration seems a very likely part of our future regardless, but if there’s at least the hint of achieving something before that comes into place, I’m very much with the players and manager on this – we can’t throw that away without a fight.

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3 comments

  1. Excellent post and couldn’t agree more – the football fan in all of us wants to go for the ‘glory’ and put the legal battle off for a little while longer. Plus, I suspect that it is likely to be a long drawn out affair that SISU have been preparing for for some time. I can’t see them giving up the club so easily whether they’ve invested the amounts of money they claim to have or not. It’s much more in their interests to put off administration and see our club get promoted then it is to take us into administration. Anyway, it all kicks off at 10.30 tomorrow at the High Court. Pity Mike Maylon won’t be running his live blog from the courtroom!

  2. Thanks for reading. All irrelevant now that Sisu have put us into admin. Pretty selfish behaviour I think – they could have at least read my blog before deciding.

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