Assuming that all goes to plan, supporters of Coventry City and Charlton Athletic will today collaborate in a second Joint Protest, following the highly successful event at the Valley in October 2016. This has been organised by The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign and the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (“CARD”).
Following a short March from the Cherry Tree Club to the Ricoh Arena, it is intended that there will be a return of the “Flying Pigs”. Immediately upon kick-off, these porcine-shaped stress balls will be thrown onto the pitch by Sky Blues and Addicks fans. The intention is only to delay the start of the game and not to cause serious disruption to play, as both teams are seeking a positive result and we have no wish to harm either team’s chances.
Although we are conscious that this is a repeat of the previous action, the Piggies have become a metaphor for the bad ownership that plagues not only Charlton and Coventry but at so many clubs throughout the Football League. There was significant popular demand, within both protest groups, for the return of our pink friends.
The Piggies are also symbolic of “So Many Porkies” that fans of both clubs - and other distressed supporters at places like Blackburn, Blackpool, Leeds, Orient etc. - have been told by poor owners, inadequate club directors and their few allies. These range from the half-truths of media spin; smears against protestors and other critics; broken promises and failed commitments; to downright lies. Just to quote a few examples relating to Coventry City:
- A commitment to build a new stadium which would be ready by 2016 – zero progress;
- An announcement regarding land for the new stadium to be made within 3 weeks in early 2014 – never happened;
- Most of the money from the sale of James Maddison was to be made available to the first team manager (Tony Mowbray) – as we now know, it was used to cover Operating Losses.
- Encouraging season ticket sales in 2016 on the promise of investment in the playing squad to push for promotion – 9 months later, we are on the brink of certain relegation, in good part due to a lack of investment;
- Supporters organisations have been accused of fermenting a Season Ticket boycott for simply pointing out that a significant majority of fans on forums, phone-ins and in surveys have indicated their intentions not to renew this summer.
- And the latest from Chairman Tim Fisher, trying to justify Season Ticket pricing for next season: "We are unlike most other football clubs, in that we do not benefit from non-ticketing revenue. The club does not get either matchday non-ticketing revenues or non-matchday revenues. We are therefore pushed to generate most income via ticketing means, and this puts pressure on the current Season Ticket pricing structure". In fact, the published club accounts refer to several sources of income that are non-ticketing related. [I refer you to this excellent analysis by OldSkyBlue58 posted on the Sky Blues Talk forum http://www.skybluestalk.co.uk/threads/but-we-dont-have-any-other-income.75248/]
Just a handful of the examples down the years. Our fellow sufferers at Charlton also have their illustrations relating to Katrien Meire (CEO) and Roland Duchatelet. Unfit and improper owners and their appointed directors, throughout the country, regularly mislead and abuse the football supporters of their club.
Many of us are completely sickened by what these people are doing, not only to our own clubs but to the game of football in general, and we have a sense of comradeship with others feeling similar pain. The Joint Protests with our friends from CARD show that this mutual support transcends the rivalry on the pitch.
I would like to express my personal appreciation to Alan, Ben, Clive and others from Charlton for their assistance, financial backing and intelligent contributions to today’s protest. CARD is a formidable organisation, I doubt that Roland Duchatelet will withstand them for much longer! And a big “thank you” to everyone, Addicks and Sky Blues alike, who has taken part in any of the activities today, especially the team at the Jimmy Hill Way.
“So Many Porkies” – the pigs we throw on the pitch today will represent all those half-truths, smears, broken promises and lies. In fact, it’s possible that there won’t be enough pigs to illustrate how many falsehoods have been perpetrated by the terrible owners at so many football clubs.