As bored as many are with the moaning, unfortunately I can’t reconstitute my feelings after just two games. This blog is an outlet for these continued thoughts. If my being upset about Coventry not being in Coventry offends, you should probably brace yourself.

I note with great intrigue the latest effort to persuade City fans to turn up at Sixfields – suggesting we flip the current boycott to an extreme and turn up en masse, with the intention of making Sisu “think” and ultimately altering their position.

I don’t want to get into this all over again, but typically I’m going to.

Having a rant about the situation is becoming more and more frowned upon from certain sections. There’s a lot of “we just need to get on with it” talk doing the rounds, which after just two games in Northampton strikes me as hugely defeatist. Switching off the emotions isn’t a particular easy thing to do.

I sense some people are already so bored with taking a stand against our predicament, which contributed in part to the increased home attendance at the weekend. But for such a fundamental point in this argument, there’s an aspect of this whole saga which seems to be getting lost amongst the hoopla.

To re-iterate – for many, many fans, their attendance at Northampton doesn’t hinge on a moral decision they’ve had to make. For a lot of people, they simply don’t have that choice.

Vast numbers support their local team because it’s convenient and fits with how they wish to support a football team. Home games are great because you can rock up with 10 minutes to go, meet your mates in familiar surroundings, and crucially; it takes no time at all to get there. For the most part a short bus ride or stroll is all you should really need.

Even the Ricoh (as controversial as its location has sometimes been) was able to provide that level of comfort to the people of Coventry. It doesn’t have the same raw Coventry scent as Highfield Road, but it was a nice new home for the fans, with a fresh new smell, and while there were adjustments to routines with that move, these were certainly manageable.

Northampton is different. Northampton constitutes an away day for many fans in Coventry.

I’m not in the game of telling people exactly what to do, because let’s face it, we all care about this to varying degrees. But I do think we could do with understanding what impact our decisions have on the situation, and Keeping CCFC in Coventry, which I presume is just about the only sentiment we can all agree on.

Some of you may be able to make it to Sixfields with little effort and are doing so simply to watch some football, but what about those people who can’t make it to the games any more? How is their view being represented or supported in all of this?

We’re supposed to be a community of supporters, with a single allegiance, but we’ve fallen into distinct groups; those who can and will go to Sixfields; those who can but won’t; those who can’t go but would if they could; and finally those who can’t go, so they never will.

And it’s those who can’t go to watch their team anymore which I feel most frustration for. The elderly fans, the younger kids whose parents can no longer make it, the guys who used to be able to walk up and meet friends but can’t – they’re all missing out through uncontrollable means.

When I’ve raised this point in discussion with others, the reflex from them has been to jump in with the “I wouldn’t go anyway” argument, because of course, there’s a principle to be upheld. But we shouldn’t forget that a key facet of that principle is something along the lines of  “Coventry City should be in Coventry, because our local team should be local enough for us to easily travel to”.

We can devise “logical” arguments and reasoning about why people should join the crew in Northampton, but I’d rather more importance be placed on this issue and how deeply unfair it is – this isn’t just about fans making a choice, that choice has been made for them.

It’s a far larger effort to be a supporter now. Some people can manage this effort and are keen to do so, but we have to remember amongst all this talk of scabs and deserters – the current decision has been enforced upon a huge number of our fans, and that’s what really stinks.

And by extension, because of this unnecessarily drastic change in circumstance unfairly forcing my hand, I won’t ever go to Northampton due to the lack of consideration towards how this move isolates a large proportion of us. Fans have explained the impact this move has on them, but the response from those enforcing it has been emphatically dismissive.

When discussing this with friends, I find myself forgetting about the contributing factors that led up to this summer – once Northampton became a viability, it was full steam ahead from the owners, and that drew my attention. You shouldn’t use that statement to misconstrue my position in all of this either – I was (and still am) outraged at ACL for the timing of their legal action last season. It was ill-judged, poorly planned and contrary to what they claimed at the time, not done with best interest of Coventry City fans at heart. That was a convenience angle.

But over the course of the summer the rhetoric from Sisu has been one of defiance and hostility towards everyone, with very little signs of willingness to compromise any further. They’ve had their pressures, but as they bat away every proposed gesture of resolution – be it genuine or not – it’s hard to dismiss their attitude. They seem unwilling to relinquish any gains in power they acquire during this political and legal war of attrition with ACL.

Let’s work the problem people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.

That’s one of my favourite quotes, and with the suggestion that we should overwhelm Sixfields with our presence, I keep asking myself the same questions. What is the problem and what are our intentions? I mean, we just want to be back playing in Coventry (preferably at the Ricoh) as soon as possible, right? That’s the end game we’re hoping to achieve.

So which of the following suggested plans is more likely to force Sisu – a company whose feelings towards our club orbit a financial nucleus – to amend their stance and facilitate that return?

a) Nobody turns up to Sixfields. To my mind, this results in Sisu receiving minimal revenue from the move, thus losing control over the situation and their current sense of financial viability. They would then be forced (if they have any business sanity) to address this decline in order to recover the income and support they’ve lost. You’d hope, and expect this to mean finding a way to bring the club home.

Or

b) Loads turn up to Sixfields. Obviously this means they receive a boost to their anticipated income, but it also risks being construed as validation of the move away – whether that’s the intended symbolism behind the gesture or not. They’ve moved the club; the fans have joined them. They could quite feasibly read it that way and use this to justify further drastic decisions about our future.

Let’s face it – each scenario is an extreme event, and we’re all guessing about how Sisu would perceive them. But the reality is we can guess about how they will react to either until we’re blue in the face, but can we really afford to take any more risks with our football club?

I’m no businessman, but surely the economics of the situation tell us that Sisu are more likely to be forced into bringing this club back home if staying in Northampton is proved to be completely untenable? They claim to be prepared to finance this exile, but they will have a budget and projections like every other business – do they seriously have the resolve to see this out for 3-5 years with only a negligible income stream?

To suggest that by subverting their expectations and bombarding the stadium with fans this will actually encourage them back to the City… well, I can’t help but feel sceptical about the realism behind this approach.

Of course we can’t definitively force Sisu’s hand – they’ve shown how headstrong they are when it comes to making unpopular decisions – but it feels important we adopt an approach that is more likely to actually influence them (in a language we know they speak), rather than one which places the decision at their own discretion.

They are both risky tactics because we know we’re dealing with an entity that has taken very little notice of our actions before. But of these two options, I think I will always place my backing behind the one which gives us the best chance of wrestling back some semblance of control over our football club.

I agree that having too many fans at Sixfields will cause Sisu a headache – but let’s be honest, it’s still a good headache. Like Tesco when they open up all their tills and people are still queuing down the aisles. It could be a lot worse. Sisu would have to deal with it in some form, but the crucial thing is that they’d remain in full control of how they deal with the situation. It might provide a little inconvenience and make them wonder what things could be like back at the Ricoh, but they’d always prefer having to turn people away than having to beg people to turn up. Plus it surely reduces the urgency with which they need to bring the club home.

If the aim here is to force a return to Coventry this season (or at least renewed discussions between the warring parties), and the options we have are to either flood the stadium or leave it deserted – my every instinct tells me that desertion has the highest chance of forcing Sisu into changing their thinking.

We can postulate about how Sisu may react to the surprise of an over-subscribed stadium, but when we have so many supporters facing difficulties making the regular trip to Northampton, and the opportunity is there to prove how big an impact this has had on us – then my only thought is to display my continued disgust in a way which aligns with that sentiment. A boycott serves that purpose, and makes that point clearly.

Turning up in our droves is too much of an ambiguous message, and I worry that the response it would provoke is far less predictable than is being suggested.

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9 comments

  1. Coventry folk are proud, strong and will withstand most things that life throws at them, I learnt this from my Grandfather who had service in the war in Italy and as a fire Marshall here in our city during the blitz.
    My father who first took me to see the lads in 67 when I was just five years old, once told me that life is about doing the best you can everyday, I firmly believe that standing against the people responsible and by that I mean both of the main stakeholders in this sorry and spiteful tale, is the only way us people from Coventry know how and we know it is the best we can do and the right thing to do.

    Do not even think of going to Sixfields,
    it is a sign of weakness
    It does not improve our position as fans.
    It does not help our cause to return the Sky Blues to the RICOH.
    This is not having a pop at the people that do because that is there choice, but if you do not make a stand of what is wrong from right out of selfishness you will never achieve anything in life, you will only experience second best and that is what you have at six fields.

    We have to show everyone that even though we do not hold the cards or make the decisions eventually one side or the other will have to give into the people’s will because the bottom line is they need us.
    If nothing changes, within the next two months when Appletons report is published and the CVA is done and dusted, we need to organize a fans forum to plan where we go as a united unit of one.

    I look at many fans ideas and thoughts on the situation on the various forums available, if we do not move quickly on this, we will lose momentum we need to focus on what needs to be done to unite our club.
    I call upon all of the main players who support us the fans through social media,
    The Sky Blues Trust, the former players association, GMK, you the Sky blues blog,the fans forum and many other sites and people who I have not mentioned to pull together and plan a way forward.

    We can influence, we can promote change, we can stand strong as we have done in the past and will do so in the future.
    Come on let’s do this, do you think it’s possible? Because I do.

    1. People don’t seem to understand that SISU have said they have no intention of playing under the jurisdiction of Coventry Council. Therefore when the new stadium is built all local taxes will go to another council. So they expect the Coventry supporters to subsidise council tax payers in Rugby or wherever !! So much for local community spirit and football being at it’s head , so there will be no benefit for Coventry . .

  2. I agree that Sky Blues fans should stay away from Sixfields. However we could make a fantastic demonstration by targeting one ‘home’ fixture and having 20,000 plus fans turn up in Northampton. It would be a nightmare for the Northamptonshire Police, a nightmare for Northampton Town, and a demonstration to SISU/OTIUM of what they could have in Coventry. It would also get massive media coverage.

  3. Great blog. I can’t think of a better protest than having no CCFC fans at all turn up. That would get media attention and shame SISU. The televised game against Sheffield United would be a good time to do this – no one would miss watching the game as its on TV.

  4. Surely we should be supporting the tenant ie CCFC in its struggle against the leeching landlord, ie ACL. whoever made the deal for CCFC to pay exorbitant rent at the Ricoh, rather than remain at Highfield Road and develop it appropriately is the main culprit. Surely, we must support the tenant in its withholding of rent until a reasonable and sustainable deal can be done between the landlord and tenant. I am aCCFC supporter, not a Ricoh Arena supporter. I think that the Ricoh is the only realistic place for CCFC to play, but it has to be done in a way which enables the club to sustain itself and thrive. Just playing at the Ricoh for the sake of it, regardless of the cost to the club, will cause it to deteriorate in the way that it plainly has since the move from Highfield rOad.

    1. I guess job one is getting the tenant to realise that playing out of Coventry isn’t an option for the fans, then. They seem hell-bent on sticking this out and are full of provocative rhetoric. I agree the rent was too much and they had to get it down – but having destroyed the relationship to a point where we’ve lost our home, to follow up by stating that the only way you’ll return to the Ricoh is if you’re given the bleeding lot is far too extreme, and is hardly a good start to resolving the situation. While we support them in Northampton, it doesn’t really give them them the motivation to bring us back any time soon.

      Of course finances are a huge issue, but we can use this to our advantage – if we get them round to the mindset of “we need to be back in Cov to survive”, it surely gives that a better chance of actually happening.

  5. One question I haven’t seen discussed much is how SISU’s intention to fund 3 – 5 years’ losses in Northampton is compatible with the new fair play rules. Have the Football League given them dispensation to spend in excess of the regulatory percentage of turnover on wages or will they need to drastically cut the wage bill if they are still at Sixfields in a year’s time, when they will be assessed on much reduced revenue during the current season?

  6. Great blog, you will not get everyone to boycott all games but selected ones this year such as televised ones is a great idea along with the turn up on mass one, something the trust and all the websites need to see if it can be organised.

    SISU will not back down now, it will require ACL to give in to the, to have them back at the RICOH and that won’t happen.

  7. As Cov fans we sing “Let’s all sing together”, but when it mattered most, lets be honest, we have failed.
    There are as many opinions as there are fans, and even with facebook, twitter and all other social media as a fan base we don’t have leadership from within our ranks. The heritage of our city has been torn from us and any outside leaders have merely stood by and watched it happen.
    The Sky Blues Trust, NOPM and KCIC are all valid initiatives, but despite small victories have not yet created a tipping point as the forces involved are too stubborn and deaf to reason.
    We are now divided into three groups; those who will go to NTFC, those who will not, and the growing silent minority of those with understandable apathy who’ve turned their back on the whole sorry lot of them. (And whilst we’re being honest, lets face it, apathy is understandable for Coventry fans who have not seen a top six finish in 40 years, the only club in the country not to do so in any division since 1973).
    And yet every single decision-making party in this mess all agree unanimously, whole-heartedly on one thing – Coventry should play in Coventry. Or they say they do. All of them say they have done all can to make that happen, yet all have failed. So at least one of them must be lying.
    But who to believe and what song shall we all sing together?
    Forget the spineless Football League who’s admissions of incompetence are as heartfelt as their pathetic excuses.
    Forget our MPs who’s media sound-bites promise to fight for the people they represent but when they face the enemy and a free lunch they become corporate puppets who might as well be on the payroll.
    Forget CCC who’s embarassing excuses for their own lack of action are shameful beyond belief. Not bothering to arrange a meeting because they thought Sepalla was “out of the country” would be a sackable offense in most forms of business management.
    And forget SISU and while we’re at it forget ACL. Neither one of them can make a statement of any kind without slagging off the other. Both say they want Cov in Cov but have failed to even try to deliver it. At the end of the day SISU want a stadium and they don’t care where it is, all we know for sure is that it won’t be in Coventry, unless they are handed the keys to the Ricoh for free. ACL claim they don’t need CCFC but really, who are they kidding?
    So can we just support the team without picking sides and without supporting SISU? Unfortunately not. It’s a nice enough idea but negotiating with kidnappers is one thing, paying their rent for them is another.
    The national media? The local media? The legal system? Fellow supporters? Not gonna happen is it.
    So who can we stand behind? Who can we trust? What song can we all sing together?
    None. Not together. There is not one party who can effect the outcome of thus trial who hasn’t lied to us, completely disregarded us and treated us like fools. History has proven that fan boycotts just don’t work. We’re too fickle. At 1:0 up today we were going to win the league, at 1:1 we were relegated for sure. Cavalier tactics and defensive neglect will bring goals at both ends, but should it over-ride our principals and price Mr Fisher right that would all come crawling back after three games? Imagine if it did. Imagine our shame and just ourselves to blame.
    The only song we can sing together is one of silence. A complete wall of silence until all the voices of power do the one thing they said wanted to do. No more talk, no more listening to excuses and blame, no more games home or away, no more pointless calls for common-sense, no protests, nothing! They have made a laughing stock of something they we LOVE and we will not forgive them. Tell them all they have lied to us for the last time because we are no longer listening.
    Until the day arrives when Coventry plays back in Coventry.
    Then see if while we sing together we will never lose.

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