Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Content at Coventry?

Posted by John Beech on September 7, 2014


As  the Ricoh electronic sign facing the road running past the stadium puts it, Welcome Home Coventry City.  Undoubtedly it was an emotional moment on Friday evening to see the end of exile in Northampton.  This display of emotion by ACL, the Ricoh company, was lessened to some extent by the fact that that it is one of a series of advertisements that cascade, so not entirely overwhelming.  Among the others is one declaiming ‘NERF WARS Ten players for £99’.  Turf Wars might be nearer the truth.

A return to the Ricoh has been from the very beginning a no brainer.  Everybody lost with the move to Northampton – Sisu, through the boycott by Coventry City fans (although I suspect that the massive drop in gates was not solely out of reasoned protest by ‘real fans’ but also done to inconvenience for the less less-committed, but still important financially, fans.

I suspect that ACL, recognising what a no brainer the return was, always anticipated a return.  The club logo, visible through the left-hand sector of the elliptical frame, never disappeared from the stadium throughout the period of exile, a slightly unnerving take on reality.

The details of the current ceasefire in the war between ACL and Sisu are subject to commercial confidentiality.  The fact that a professional mediator was involved suggests to me that concessions were eventually made by both parties.  Sisu have put on a bold face on and still talk bullishly but vaguely in terms of a new stadium, while ACL have not swung the might of their PR company Weber Shandwick into overdrive.

What little is known as fact is that the new agreement is one for two years with the option of a further two years.  Seven years in and £40m+ sunk into the club by Sisu, SISU are far from OUT.  Dreams of a Pompey-style takeover of the club by the Sky Blue Trust remain just that.

However jubilant fans may feel, there is little at a deeper level to celebrate, and they need to recognise that the ‘war’ is not over.  They may be content to watch football at where they see as the rightful home of the club, but until more fundamental issues are fully resolved, we are now in a clod war scenario, with the prospect that hostilities will resume as we come up to the end of the current two-year ceasefire.  Whatever deal has been reached over rent and matchday revenues is inevitably a compromise.  The depressing reality is that neither Sisu nor ACL cannot afford to compromise as they both need all the monies in question.

One unknown in the equation is how many fans will maintain an anti-Sisu boycott.  It will be interesting to see the level at which attendances settle as the season progresses.

9 Responses to “Content at Coventry?”

  1. Am very happy about Coventry city back to the ground so we can win the league 1 and get in the next league and win every game i hope get more players my name Andrew Allcock

  2. Rich M said

    Quite right John, the current euphoria at a return has to be tinged with a hard dose of reality. SISU still have their hooks into CCFC & it won’t be a football club being run for sporting reasons till their gone. I can’t wait for the day that happens & I can support the club with all my heart once more.

  3. Richard Styles said

    John, you’re quite right in that this is just the first step in the right direction, but what a step! Even the longest journey starts with just one step and by bringing us home to the Ricoh both ACL & SISU have finally acknowledged the power of the fans and made their first positive PR move in 2 years. They now have 2 years to negotiate so I for one am looking at this as glass half full time rather than taking your glass half empty viewpoint. Yes, we all know there is a messy reality to sort out but let us enjoy the moment , at least until this unbeaten run ends.

  4. oum said

    I am unable to give any monies to Sisu after their despicable treatment of a children’s charity to get a quick profit by a company run by a professed religious woman. No Joy Mother Teresa was a religious woman .You appear to be a pillage
    Martin O’Connor

  5. Congratulations and keep up the good work!

  6. thagills said

    Hi there,

    Really enjoy reading your blog. I was there in the Gillingham end the night the Ricoh was re-opened and even if it was a very short lived moment, the atmosphere in the stadium that night was incredible.

    I’ve recently started up and was wondering if you’d be willing to do a link exchange. I think your site is an excellent read and would really love to hear back from you about a reciprocal link.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!


    • John Beech said

      Technically off-topic forr my site, but added with delight (at the bottom of the Links page) – cracking photos!

      All the best


  7. The Ricoh still going strong! I aren’t a huge fan of the sign though. It makes it look too much like an American football ground.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic blog… I find it very needful & informative as well… Keep sharing more!!!

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