Anyone who has only briefly followed or read of the chaos revolving around my team, Coventry City, over the last year whose calamitous tale would have any Hollywood scriptwriter scratching their heads over a ridiculously fantastical storyline; will know the events that have led my club to depict nothing more than a sham of its once, not to glorious granted, but proud past.
After 130 years of continuous Association Football in the City of Coventry, our team has been ripped from the heart of the community it represented and from its loyal fans with the decision to allow my team to play 35 miles away in the town of Northampton. Anger, bewilderment, frustration, but resilience were the emotions evoked by this shameful sanctioning.
The strength of mind in the supporters was plain to see when a protest march through the historic streets of Coventry in the summer was supported by over 8,000 determined fans, marching against our stubborn owners and local council, and also against the authorities of our fine game, The Football League and FA whose role in the demise of my football club has been overlooked but must now been questioned.
Our recent FA Cup 4th Round match versus Arsenal will not be remembered for the ultimate 4-0 score line but for when in the 35th minute, 6,000 traveling City fans held aloft in defiance and despair, signs that simply read;
Why had the Football League allowed my team to be torn away from fans that for more than a century had devoted money, time and passion to their football club?
Why, after 9 months has there been nothing but silence on behalf of the League, the FA and from the owners of our club regarding any form of progress or effort to get our club back to where it should always have been.
And why will the League and FA not do more to protect the interests of one of its member clubs and force the Club back to Coventry which if you asked 99.9% of football fans would tell you should never have been allowed to happen. (The other 0.1% may well just be made up of some of our rival Leicester City fans!)
In August the League stated they had ‘reluctantly’ sanctioned my club to play its games in the soulless Sixfields stadium in Northampton, which is nothing against the stadium or town, but an accurate portrayal of an atmosphere that’s more reminiscent of a library than a football stadium with crowds consistently struggling to reach over 1,500. The message is clear. We will not go to Northampton to watch Coventry. Coventry City belongs in the City of Coventry.
In January the League then stated that perhaps in retrospect, events leading up to the ground share could have been handled better. So WHY, if the League admits decisions made were in error, has nothing proactive been done to resolve this perilous issue for my club?
Recently, the Board of the Football League attempted to exert it’s influence by unanimously blocking, through its Owners’ and Directors’ Test ‘, Massimo Cellino’s attempts to buy Leeds United. The previous week saw the FA block the proposed name change of Hull City; A victory for the tireless campaign from many Hull supporters to block a change to their historic name.
Finally it appeared that our governors were beginning to grow a backbone to owner’s wims which threaten Football Club’s identities and supporters interests.
And yet, when it comes to Coventry City Football Club, neither the FA nor the Football League are prepared to act. Only 4 days after the block of Hull City’s name change, it was revealed by local media in Coventry that the FA had implied they were unwilling to become embroiled in the humiliating mess of my club.
The FA’s shameful reply that Coventry City was merely a matter for the Football League screams of a total unwillingness from our national governing body to become involved and to protect the interests of a team further down the football pyramid. How can a name change be deemed as something more important to become a part of than the predicament of a club that sees itself wrongly playing 35 miles away from its home, with little indication of returning in the future?
The FA, as our football governing body has a duty to work with the Football League, whom, in personal replies to various letters sent, are equally accountable in washing their hands to any involvement in helping my club to come back home with replies that Coventry City is a commercial issue between the owners of the Ricoh Arena and the Football Club.
The League has recently suggested that policies will be created to ensure there is not another saga like that of Coventry City. This is not good enough. The saga of Coventry City continues to sever the club from its fans which has increasingly led to division, sometimes violent, between fans that were once loyal and unanimous to everything Sky Blue.
Emotions run high between fans because we continue to care. The passion that still resonates in the large majority of City supporters means the determination to get our club home continues. But how long will this last? Attendances have dwindled… how long is it before our resolve and willingness to stand up for our club begins to dwindle without support from those who can make a difference and help.
Our voice as Coventry City fans is currently still loud; ‘We want to go home. We want to go home. Back to the Ricoh. The Ricoh’s our home.’
It is time the FA and Football League began to listen and act because City supporters are growing increasingly weary, tired and disillusioned. If Coventry City ever does return to its hometown, it may find that it’s too late to resurrect the support of generations of long suffering Sky Blue Army supporters.