I hope that you all had a very enjoyable Christmas and particularly relished the Sky Blues' return to winning ways against Charlton Athletic yesterday. For the benefit of our Club Chairman, Mr Tim Fisher, that is the Addicks not the Posh as apparently stated in the printed copy of his Boardroom Message to fans. The Posh is of course Peterborough, who CCFC played in November.
It's good to know that our Chairman is so in touch. He certainly has not lost his talent for putting his foot in it, everytime he opens his mouth. If there's one thing that you can rely on with Tim, it is that what he tells you is usually wrong. This is a man who once accused a High Court Judge of being wrong in fact and wrong in law: subsequent rulings from superior court judges proved that it was Tim and Joy Seppala who, not for the first or last time, were well wide of the mark. So no surprise then that yesterday's programme notes from Tim were wrong in fact and wrong in fiction.
After that hopeless introduction to yesterday's guests, Tim goes onto describe the difference of opinion between the Sky Blue Trust and other members of the new Supporters' Forum as follows:
As highlighted in bold above, there was a very public insinuation that the Trust did not give its backing to any of the "pledges" or to the principle that Coventry City FC should continue playing at the Ricoh. As often with Tim, there is a significant degree of untruthfulness in this statement.
On the same day that the club published the "pledges", the Sky Blue Trust produced its own statement in support of the club's position which concurred in almost identical words with 4.5 of the 5 points made by the club. You can read the Trust statement here: skybluetrust.co.uk/index.php/114-latest-news/642-sky-blue-trust-s-response-to-coventry-city-s-published-statement-from-the-supporters-forum-regarding-the-ricoh-arena-situation and it actually goes further by calling for a mediation process to be considered again.
The one key point of difference comes over the continuation of the court case. 10 out of 11 members of the Supporters Forum were prepared to give Sisu carte blanche to pursue their agressive litigation. This is in stark contrast to a recent on-line poll conducted the Coventry Telegraph which showed that around 10 in every 11 people who responded thought that Sisu should drop the court case. It is therefore clear that while, as Mr FIsher says, public opinion is in favour of the football club continuing to play at the Ricoh Arena, that same public opinion supports the line taken by the Sky Blue Trust, that Sisu and its associated entities, which includes the football club, should suspend legal action to enable this to be achieved.
The main problem with the statement as written by the club and adopted by the Supporters Forum, is that it appears not as a request for peace talks but as a surrender demand. To ask for "ALL parties to put aside their differences to sit down and negotiate a deal for Coventry City to play at the Ricoh Arena as soon as possible, despite the on-going court case" is effectively saying that Wasps should abandon their red lines on a deal without any equivalent goodwill from Sisu or CCFC. It is a nonsensical request.
Dave Boddy, CCFC Chief Executive, has told supporters that club management has made "representations" to Sisu about the Court cases and the implications for the club's continued presence at the Ricoh. Why then did the club statement not include similar representations? How can representatives of the organisations listed in Tim's programme notes give their sanction to actions which clearly threaten their club's future, even if they believe there is little hope of Sisu dropping the legal proceedings? It would be wise for these individuals and their groups to reconsider their stated position because, as shown by the Coventry Telegraph poll, they are out of line with the vast majority of fellow supporters and the people of Coventry generally.
You have to wonder why Tim Fisher chose to attack the Trust in his programme notes. My guess would be that the intention is to divert blame from Sisu, for pursuing a course of action that puts the Ricoh arrangements at severe risk, onto the one group of supporters at the Forum, the Sky Blue Trust, who were prepared to tell CCFC that this element of their proposals was deeply flawed.
The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign Group and it appears most supporters generally are in tune with the Trust stance. We support the continuation of Coventry City playing at the Ricoh and are acutely aware of the dangers if that cannot be achieved, equally we are deeply concerned that an extension to the current arrangement won't be secured while Sisu continue their legal action.
In focusing his programme notes on the difference of opinion between the Trust and the Club, Tim Fisher has actually betrayed himself and his colleagues. Dave Boddy has tried to argue that the club is not connected with the court case, even though Otium Entertainment, one of the protagonists, IS Coventry City Football Club and its sole director is Tim Fisher. He is also 50% of the Board of Sky Blue Sports & Leisure, another of the plaintiffs. Tim's attempt to paint the Trust as the villains because they did not support 0.5 of the 5 pledges, the part where the club's owners are allowed to pursue the court action, clearly demonstrates that the Chairman ACTIVELY supports Sisu in their war with the Council and Wasps. Why else would he be so agitated by the Sky Blue Trust's opposition to the litigation? In the process, Tim undermines any claim by Dave Boddy that the club is not involved.
In a recent private discussion with Dave Boddy I gave him some advice which I will now repeat publicly. If you want to unify fans in support of the football club management, more importantly if you want to influence Wasps' decision makers to relent on their stated position, then the arguments that you make have to be credible and persuasive. That contradiction between asking ALL parties to put aside their differences while one party continues its legal action against others, is neither credible nor persuasive. In fact, it is an insult to the intelligence of those that you wish to influence.
Nor is it credible or persuasive to claim that:
- The club is not intimately involved with the legal action when it is named on the court papers - any vague hope of persuading people on that point has been finally dashed by Tim's programme notes;
- "Plan A is and always has been for Coventry City FC to play at the Ricoh", despite the long-stated intention to build a new stadium near, but not in, Coventry and the proposal to ground share with Coventry Rugby Club at Butts Park Arena, both of which schemes have proved as unreal as most of Tim's utterances;
- Statements of reassurance issued by Coventry City Council at the time the Ricoh was "sold" to the Wasps are to be construed as a covenant that guarantees that the Sky Blues can play at the Ricoh forever, no matter what behaviours are demonstrated by the owners and directors of the football club.
All these spurious points ring completely hollow.
There are now less than 1,000 minutes of football left to be played at the Ricoh under the current arrangements. All supporters of the football club, ourselves very much included, dearly wish for a deal to be done for Coventry City to play on at the stadium which was built for our club. In our opinion, that won't be achieved by a lack of candour on the part of club directors or staff. Mr Boddy and those who have been persuaded to support his arguments, need to recognise that honesty is the best policy .... and pray that they have not already alienated Wasps to the point where a deal becomes impossible.
As for Dave Boddy's boss, Timmy ... the man who put the "Gaff" into "Gaffer" ... it really is time that he called time on his role at Coventry City.
With that, I hope that we can cheer for another 3 points against Southend on Saturday - for Tim's benefit, that's "The Shrimpers". I wish you all a Happy New Year in the fervent desire that a Ricoh deal will get done early in 2019 and we finally see the back of Sisu.
The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign