Statement by The Sky Blue Trust
There have been a number of statements recently, in the press and on social media, about support for an “independent” inquiry into into the Council's sale of Arena Coventry Limited to Wasps. The Council have explained that the transaction will be the subject of a report by their external auditors. In the Trust’s view, that is preferable to any such “independent inquiry’ for several reasons:
The Council’s auditors are appointed under legislation which gives them statutory powers, full access to documentation and the ability to compel Council officials to respond to questions. They are required by law to be wholly impartial and objective. They can impose a range of legal sanctions if wrongdoing is found. An independent inquiry would have none of those features. The Trust recognises that integrity and financial probity in dealings by Coventry City Council are of great importance to the Council Tax payers of the City and we await the outcome of the audit with interest.
But, from the Trust’s point of view, there is an issue far more important to the future of Coventry City Football Club - i.e. the dreadful plight of the team, in its lowest League position for half a century, with dwindling attendances and shockingly low morale amongst supporters. Rather than focussing on the background to a completed transaction, we are far more concerned to press the people responsible for the Club’s plight - its owners - to show some ambition and fight for our Club’s survival in League One and then to move upwards.
The stance of the Trust has been challenged by Mr Peter Ward of the Supporters Consultative Group. He has made some misleading points about the Trust. He says that we claim to represent the views of fans. We claim only to represent the views of our members, as assessed in regular surveys and at monthly open meetings.
He also says our recent survey “to which a few hundred fans responded was one-sided and unreasonably loaded against the club's owners. He added many fans would have welcomed an additional question, asking: Should fans support the team, at least until there is any clear and realistic takeover proposal with SISU prepared to sell’?”
The survey attracted over 600 responses. That level of participation and the decisive outcome is statistically proven to be an accurate representation of the views of our members on this issue. It began with a clear statement that the Trust will continue to communicate with the Club’s owners and will seek to hold them to account for progress on their five point plan.
It gave two options - one seeking to have the Club’s Board replaced and the second asking SISU to seek a new owner for the Club. We were aware that some may not support either course of action and so invited people to opt for “neither.” In fact only a tiny number of our members chose that option.
Mr Ward’s idea that we should ask Coventry City fans whether they should continue to support the team is frankly ludicrous. Of course they should and we will. There has never been any doubt about the Trust or its members supporting the team or having the best interests of Coventry City Football Club at heart. What is clear is that our members overwhelmingly believe that Sisu’s stewardship of our club is not and has not been beneficial to the team or its supporters. The long term record of failure by the owners and the Directors that they have appointed to run the club stands as clear evidence that our members belief is well-founded.
The Trust continues to worry that the Supporter’s Consultative Group is deeply flawed in its composition and methods of operating.
The Group’s Terms of Reference say that: “the Group will comprise up to 15 supporters, who will represent various supporter organisations and/or demographic groups whose input is considered of value in representing the generality of Coventry City supporters.” Apart from the Trust, the London Supporters and one or two others, we have no idea who the other people on the Group claim to represent other than themselves or how they gauge opinion from those for whom they purport to speak. We recognise that many of the other people on the SCG are genuine in their commitment to the Club, however there appears to be little accountability or balance.