The importance of the academy to CCFC cannot be overemphasised – it has produced a large number of very talented and successful players for the club over the years, many of whom have graced the Sky Blue shirt with distinction and some who have moved on to pastures new thus providing vital revenue for the club.
Recent developments at the Alan Edward Higgs centre, where the academy is based, have cast doubt over the future of this important component of the Coventry City infrastructure. The club have been based at the centre for a decade but in the past couple of years their relationship with the centre owners and management has been fractious and even broken when the academy left, albeit temporarily, their traditional base. On their return they did so on a finite contact that expires in July 2017 and have block booked the facilities they require on a rolling 3 month basis.
With the new centre owners stated plans to convert the vital indoor pitch into a swimming pool followed by the additional blow that Wasps were to build a training facility at the Higgs City fans were thrown into a furore. The new Wasps structure would be constructed on the site of the current outdoor pitch and Wasps would also take possession of several of the outdoor pitches.
All this news has disconcerted Sky Blues fans almost universally and the Trust immediately called upon all parties involved to put past differences aside and work together to ensure the continuation of a Sky Blue Academy.
To this end the Trust had several meetings and discussions with CSF, Wasps and CCFC to get their perspective on events and get their assurance that they were willing to enter into meaningful discussions with each other. All three parties held their own views on what had gone on previously but all indicated that they would be willing to work with the others to try and ensure a positive outcome. The Trust has even offered to host and broker the talks in necessary.
CCFC are consulting the Football League to discuss exactly what they need to retain the Academy as a Category 2 status or at worst Category 3. Once this has been established there will be a framework for all parties to work around. It will mean some changes and some compromise but the over-riding aim must be the continuation of an Academy at Coventry City.
Once again this proves that on going constructive dialogue is the answer. We believe that and as long as all parties are open and willing to work together then things can be achieved. Let us hope that this isn’t all just so much hot air, that people stop using the Academy as a political football and that everyone is genuine in their desire to ensure there is an Academy for CCFC now and in the future.
This article was amended to reflect new information from CCFC, that they were consulting the League about academy requirements, not the FA
Whilst it is disappointing to hear that negotiations between CCFC and Wasps have been suspended it is good to hear that at least they have been talking. It is also heartening that it does appear that some real progress has been made in coming to a long term agreement for the Sky Blues to remain at the stadium that was built for them, although the seeming disparity displayed by their respective statements as to the number of points of agreement is a bit confusing.
The recent Coventry Telegraph poll showed that the majority of CCFC fans wish to stay at the Ricoh and we would urge all parties to re-open negotiations as quickly as possible, removing or at least putting to one side the stated obstacles, to ensure a deal is done.
We recently called on SISU to withdraw from further legal proceedings, reflecting the widespread view amongst Sky Blues fans that “Enough is Enough”. The evidence is clear from this latest development that court action is now not only a distraction for the football club; it also has the potential to damage Coventry City’s future prospects.
However the most pressing matter facing the club at this moment is the situation surrounding the clubs Academy at the Higgs Centre. This is a very serious situation as the importance of a top class category 2 academy cannot be overstated – we once again urge all parties, CCFC, CSF, CCC and Wasps to examine all options and work out a plan that retains the status of this vital asset to the club.
The Sky Blue Trust recently expressed its concern and sadness at the reported news that the Allard Way facilities will no longer be available to house Coventry City’s academy when the present agreement between CCFC and the Alan Higgs Trust expires in June 2017.
We understand that the Coventry Sports Foundation, the organisation that now manages the Academy base at Allard Way, has been reported as saying that the door is still open for the club to extend its existing lease at the site. We therefore now urge all parties to work together to make this happen.
We believe that having a Category 2 academy is massively important for the future of the club. Coventry City needs to continue to attract and then develop the players who will become the future of our club. It is therefore imperative that this status, which attracts a grant in the region of £500, 000 from the Premier League, is protected.
We have seen the reported plans that Coventry Sports Foundation is looking to find an alternative use for the vital indoor pitch. Whatever the background to this is we find it a distressing development and would ask for clarification on this particular issue and the wider plans of the club with regard to the academy in terms of its immediate, medium term and long term plans.
The Trust is therefore asking both sides to spell out their intentions in this matter before irreversible decisions are taken. Is the door still open from Coventry Sports Foundation? Is the club seeking to stay at Alan Higgs Centre? Are both sides talking or willing to talk?
This is not a time for taking sides or repeatedly going over old ground. This matter is far too important for posturing and bluffing and needs resolving at the very earliest opportunity.
The Trust has fought for the Academy in the past and will do so again as it is now more important than ever and cannot be allowed to be downgraded or even disbanded.
We are happy to work with both Coventry City FC and the Coventry Sports Foundation in looking to reach an early solution to this critical issue.