“Trust’s Letter To CCFC Chairman”
Dear Mr Fisher
Following the match against Colchester United on Saturday, Coventry City now have only 15 League Two matches scheduled to be played at the Ricoh Arena before the end of the current season. As you know, the agreement which allows such games to be played at the Arena expires at the end of the season.
Coventry City are therefore just 15 games away from homelessness.
Unless a suitable home ground, which meets all the relevant standards, can be secured before the start of the 2018/19 season, Coventry City may cease to exist.
Please can you tell me what steps you are taking to secure a suitable home ground for Coventry City beyond the end of the current season? It seems that the continuing legal action by Otium Entertainment Group Ltd and others against Coventry City Council and Wasps is impeding the resumption of meaningful negotiations with Wasps over use of the Ricoh for next season and beyond. Given the threat of homelessness, will Otium be considering whether to abandon the court action, thereby paving the way for the Club's continued existence in Coventry?
You have suggested that a tenancy at Butts Park Arena (BPA) is an option for the football club to play its games from next season. Is that still the case? Is it your preferred option or simply an alternative if the Ricoh is not available to you? When can we expect to see a formal proposal for BPA? How will that tackle the potential obstacles such as planning, traffic, parking, residents’ concerns etc? In your opinion, could such a development be completed before the start of the 2018/19 football season in August 2018?
As Coventry City supporters are increasingly alarmed about the growing urgency of this matter, please could I have your response before the next home League Two game is played, against Mansfield Town on Saturday 11 November 2017?
Secretary, the Sky Blue Trust
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“During 2016, the English Football League agreed new rules requiring Clubs to meet requirements for supporter engagement. Before those rules were agreed, Coventry City FC had a Supporters Consultative Group (SCG) which, in recent years, had become unrepresentative of Sky Blue fans generally and seriously dysfunctional in the way it operated. The Club’s response to the new EFL rules was to abolish the SCG and put nothing in its place.
"We read that the Club CEO, Dave Boddy, is now working on plans for a replacement to the disbanded SCG. We welcome Mr Boddy’s good intentions regarding communication with supporters. The Sky Blue Trust have offered to assist with that but have had no response to that offer. We will be interested to see how Mr Boddy proposes to ensure that any new group complies with the EFL Regulations, which require supporter representatives to "be elected, selected or invited in line with basic democratic principles.” An approach to supporter engagement, which to date appears to involve discussion with no-one but the former SCG chair, does not instil confidence that the process will demonstrate the required application of “basic democratic principles”.
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As the last months of the agreement for the Coventry City to play home games at the Ricoh Arena pass by, the Sky Blue Trust are attempting to increase the pressure on all those responsible and all those who could do something to resolve this fiasco. As part of this, after each home game, we write to one of those people or organisations, asking what they are doing to keep Coventry City in the City of Coventry.
Three weeks ago, when there were just 18 games to go, we wrote to Joy Seppala, asking her to tell supporters what steps she is taking to secure a suitable home ground for Coventry City beyond the end of the current season. She has not replied, despite a reminder.
Two weeks ago, when only 17 home games remained to be played, we wrote to Wasps, expressing understanding at the difficult position created by the continuing court action against the City Council and Wasps by Otium Entertainment Group Limited (i..e. Coventry City FC) and other SISU owned companies. However, we asked Wasps to explain in what circumstances the current agreement for Coventry City to play their home games at the Ricoh Arena might be extended beyond the end of the current season. Wasps replied within two days saying that they understand the level of anxiety amongst supporters. They went on to say:
"However, as I hope you will understand, given the ongoing legal proceedings, it is not possible for us to comment either publicly or privately on the current position.We hope that this may change in the near future and that, at that point, it may be possible to establish greater clarity over the situation.”
Yesterday, after the home defeat by Forest Green Rovers, with just 16 home League games to go, we wrote to the City Council. After once again expressing our understanding of the problems caused by the Club’s continuing court action, we asked what steps the City Council has taken, is taking or proposes to take to enable Coventry City to continue to play their home games in the City of Coventry beyond the end of the current season?
We added that
"it has been suggested by CCFC Chairman, Tim Fisher, that a tenancy at Butts Park Arena (BPA) is the preferred option for the football club to play its games from next season. Would the City Council be willing to take a pro-active role to enable the necessary development of BPA by Coventry Rugby Club and Coventry City Football Club if a formal proposal were put forward by them? What could be the potential obstacles to such a proposal? (eg planning, traffic, parking, residents’ concerns etc.) In your opinion, could such a development be completed before the start of the 2018/19 football season in August 2018?”
We will share the response from the City Council as soon as we have it.
Following Saturday’s home game against Colchester United there will be just 15 games to go. We will be writing to another individual with responsibility for the current state of affairs.
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