Coventry City will next season be playing their home games in Northampton. To the sane observer it’s a decision smothered in contempt for supporters, needless drama and irrational behaviour. So how exactly did we get here? Let’s recap, if only to emphasise the stupidity.
Sisu no longer want to do business with ACL, because ACL told them they wouldn’t negotiate any further, because Sisu reneged on a deal they’d apparently agreed, because ACL’s offer to adjust the rent wasn’t good enough.
Sounds silly. But there’s more.
ACL enforced administration, because Sisu didn’t pay their rent, because ACL’s rent was too high, because Sisu couldn’t negotiate properly.
Ridiculous, isn’t it. What next?
Sisu complicated the structure, contrived a new company, won back the company they’d placed into administration; all while developing a new plan to bugger off from the Ricoh and agreeing to groundshare with Northampton Town in the interim, against everyone’s wishes.
ACL in the meantime offered to let the club play for free at the stadium, providing it remains in administration, knowing full well that staying in administration is madness and the last thing the owners (whoever they may be) would be looking to do.
And on it goes, with plenty more financial, political and legal issues scattered around, adding to the lunacy.
Of course not. This is an absolutely bleeding nightmare.
I’ve thrown the argument every which way but loose, and still I can’t articulate the complexities of it. On the face of it, Sisu are bastards. Sure, that’s a nice and simple synopsis. But for me, the key to gaining complete understanding of how it’s got this far is to gain some sort of understanding behind their warped thinking.
And I don’t mean conjecture. I don’t mean “Oh they’re money-grabbing gits”. They may be doing little to quash that idea – but it’s not helpful here. We all have opinions about them, but I’m not sure all of these decisions are solely about money. I believe there are human decisions in play too – revolving around individual ego, pride, and a seemingly unwavering belief that what they’re doing is correct.
Sisu wanted to get a better deal, but true to form, were incapable of negotiating it sensibly and messed everything up. They are now playing silly beggars with our club and one of the hubs of the city’s entire community. Maybe it’s the world’s biggest bluff; but they seem deadly serious. Either way, they’re raising utter havoc right now and are edging closer to destroying the very essence of our football club – its local pride and identity.
ACL on the other hand misjudged the control they had over the situation, attempted to force the issue, and have provoked this hideously dramatic response. Some may say it was an enforced reaction, but you could also argue that it was miscalculated and ill-timed. Either way, it was the catalyst for what we have today.
These two remind me of feuding siblings with their clandestine mischief and stirring – two naughty boys who are an absolute nightmare to get to behave – even though they act in very different ways. One pokes and prods to see if they can annoy the other one into retaliation, then as soon as they manage it, off they go squawking to mummy about how bad their brother is. In the end they both get a bit of ticking off, but essentially get away with it because mum can’t be arsed to figure out who’s in the wrong. Nobody wins, even though the little git who’s doing all the winding up in the first place is the one who deserves a (metaphorical) good hiding.
There are so many conflicting elements to the disagreement, but if I dig to the core of my understanding, I’m left looking at a situation borne out of stubbornness. We won’t be playing at the Ricoh again next season as long as Sisu play on this belief that ACL have shut them out. They have this bloody letter which says at much – and they won’t stop harking on about it.
Clearly it is difficult for these two parties to negotiate after everything that’s happened. ACL claim to be open to more discussions, but looking at this through the dark eyes of Sisu – can you imagine a situation when they’d be keen to talk to people who sent them off to the High Court? It’s hard.
There’s a mix of pride and anger at play between both parties, but if we’re ever to find a solution which sees us back at the Ricoh in time for the new season (I’m afraid this means ignoring the Sisu out stuff at the moment – we have to pick our battles) – somehow these two have to stop being such babies. They’re dealing with the hopes of a City here. Brinkmanship, “Chicken” – whatever the hell you want to call it – it’s gone too far. These two companies must re-open negotiations immediately. The time to fix this is now.
Someone with clout – that surely has to be the Council, Football League or the FA – needs to stand up and take this opportunity to mediate the situation; not open up the interpretation of their rules to accommodate it or avoid a tricky situation.
That mediation – in whatever form it takes – absolutely has to take place if we’re to arrive at a sane resolution. If that is in the short-term, fine, but that resolution needs to be clearly focused on getting our club back at the Ricoh Arena in time for next season; you know, that stadium in Coventry with our name painted all over the bastard furniture.
It may sound simple, but that’s because it is. They’re looking around for different solutions and posturing their individual money-making capabilities, but there’s no way either of these organisations can run a sustainable and successful business unless it’s fundamentally built around Coventry City Football Club, under mutually agreeable terms, at the Ricoh Arena.
We don’t know the financial detail, but we do know the sanity. That is the only viable option. You’ve had your fun, now just take that option so we can all get back to building upon what was shaping up to be a team we could eventually be proud of.
If you’re not interested in that – then you know where the door is. It’s been open to you for long enough.