Welcome to The Jimmy Hill Way Website

The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign (”JHW”) is a coalition of fan groups demanding a better future for Coventry City Football Club. It includes the Sky Blue TrustPreservation Sky Blues and Cov Fans Together.

Our objective is to persuade the current owners, Sisu Capital and their anonymous investors, to Sell Up and Go. Whenever Sisu take that decision, we will also seek to ensure that new owners have the best interests of Coventry City and its supporters as their main priority. We also expect true supporter representation and involvement in the future operation of the club.

The approach of JHW is to organise protests by supporters, comment via social media and active engagement with other parties who share our aims, including liaison and joint action with supporters’ groups at other clubs who have similar problems with owners. We will also bring pressure to bear on the EFL and FA to take appropriate action to prevent the further decline of our beloved and once-great club. All of this activity will be in support of the stated objective, persuading Sisu to Sell Up and Go.

As JHW makes reference to the Sky Blues’ greatest ever manager, our actions will be carefully considered to avoid bringing the name of Jimmy Hill into disrepute. We are grateful to the Hill family for giving their permission to use his name in connection with our struggle. We ask that all our supporters respect that ethos.

We do not anticipate that this will be a short campaign. No single protest will bring our goal to fruition. This will be a strategy of persistence and determination until such time as Ms Joy Seppala and her hedge fund recognise that they are not welcome and that it is Time to Go.

Our Campaign slogan “Fighting The Jimmy Hill Way” echoes the final line of the song that Jimmy wrote and we all sing at every game: “We’ll Fight ‘til the Game is Won”. Ms Seppala, Tim Fisher and any who oppose us, you would do well to take heed. We are not going away, we will be on your case from now until you leave. The sooner you take the decision to Sell Up and Go, the better for all concerned.

And of course, whatever our issues with the owners of the club, more than anything we want success on the pitch.

We will continue to “Sing Together” with all City fans in support of the team, home and away – PLAY UP SKY BLUES!

 

Apples and Pears

 

Presently, we await the decision of the Supreme Court on whether to hear the application from Otium, SBS&L and Arvo to hold a Judicial Review into the circumstances of the ACL share sale.

As with the first Judicial Review, the applicants lost heavily in both the High Court and the Appeal Court. That is not to say they won’t be permitted a further hearing, which would certainly prolong the agony for all concerned, not least supporters of CCFC with the club’s future teetering on a precipice.

The 23-page judgement from the Court of Appeal deals with a complex case and the law relating to those circumstances. However, some key passages sum up the decision.

“For the reasons given in this judgement I now hand down the appeal in this case is dismissed and the order of Mr Justice Singh [High Court Judge] of the 20th of July 2017 is upheld.”

“I would dismiss this appeal and would uphold the order made by the judge, refusing permission to apply for judicial review.

“As I have said above, I consider that the judge was correct to refuse permission to apply for judicial review, on the basis that Sky Blue’s [the Applicant’s] case was based essentially on a comparison between “apples and pears”. Lord Justice McCoombe, October 2018

The “apples and pears” reference concerns two differing valuations, which when compared show a distinct difference between the value of the ACL shares under different circumstances. The first valuation by KPMG, one of the world’s foremost firms of financial advisors, was commissioned by Coventry City Council to assess the price at which it should sell its shares to Wasps. The second by leading property consultants, Strutt & Parker, was obtained by Wasps in support of a bond issue to raise the finance for the acquisition.

It was the difference in these valuations which gave rise to the argument by the Applicants that Wasps underpaid for the shares by approximately £28 million. In dismissing that comparison as invalid, Lord Justice McCoombe clearly disagreed. His decision was supported by two other very senior judges, Sir Brian Leveson and Lord Justice Irwin.

Just to clarify, the judgement did not express any opinion as to whether the valuations were correct, only that the conditions and assumptions attaching were very different, so comparison between the two was not meaningful.

There is an alternative way of reaching the same conclusion about the price paid by Wasps, one based on the actual events described in this history as opposed to theoretical values arrived at in the KPMG and Strutt & Parker valuations.

There are many different approaches to valuing businesses and shares. There is actually only one real way of determining value, which only occurs when a sale and purchase is completed.

Experts in the field of Corporate Finance will generally agree that the true value of a business (or in the case of ACL, 50% of the business) determined in the context of other terms, conditions and structures agreed, is the price which a willing buyer offers and a willing seller accepts.

In the instance of the sale of Coventry City Council’s shareholding, the price agreed with Wasps was in isolation. However, the Higgs’ shares were subject to two bids: one from Wasps and the other from Otium via the Liquidator of CCFC Limited.

With a single bidder for shares, in a non-competitive market, the value agreed is less certain. When there are multiple bidders and multiple sellers in respect of identical parcels of shares, the value achieved becomes far more definitive.

The Wasps offer to Higgs was exactly the same as that agreed with the Council for equivalent shareholdings. As described earlier, the Otium offer had a greater headline price but the “apples and pears” factor of conditional versus unconditional bids meant the Wasps offer was more attractive to the Higgs’ Trustees.

Therefore, two willing sellers agreed the exact same price with one willing buyer. Furthermore, let’s remember two quotes from the failed bidder in this auction:

“…. we have made a very generous offer”;

“…. the liquidator’s offer for the charity’s 50 per cent stake in the Ricoh Arena was generous – around £2.8 million – and guaranteed above market value price”;

statements made by Tim Fisher - Chairman of Coventry City FC, the sole Director of Otium, co-director of SBS&L - or with his implied consent, which completely undermine the case which Otium, SBS&L and Arvo continue to pursue against the Council which implicates Wasps.

Of course, I am not a Supreme Court Judge and those most senior Justices may take a different view. But I do have extensive experience of business acquisitions and disposals and in my opinion, the differential valuations are largely irrelevant to this matter.

The value of the shareholdings in ACL was determined by this quasi-auction in Autumn 2014. Therefore, the core of the case advanced by the Applicants, controlled by Sisu, appears to have no merit.

The existence of the KPMG valuation is however important in one other respect, as it shows the Council following good practice in checking that the price offered was reasonable.

 

24 Apr 2019 10:04

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16 Apr 2019 12:34

It has been announced today that the Supreme Court has refused an application from Otium Entertainment [ ... ]

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08 Mar 2019 06:59

This Sunday marks the Centenary of Coventry City FC’s election to the Football League on 10th March [ ... ]

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24 Feb 2019 09:22

Descendants of the founders of Coventry City Football Club, George Singer and Willie Stanley, have responded [ ... ]

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22 Feb 2019 10:43

The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign notes the attached Press Release from the EFL regarding Coventry City FC and [ ... ]

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15 Feb 2019 17:32

A fellow supporter, Steven Fay, is organising a March from the Cherry Tree Club 80-82 Lythalls Lane, CV6 [ ... ]

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