This Sunday marks the Centenary of Coventry City FC’s election to the Football League on 10th March 1919.
Along with West Ham United, Rotherham County, South Shields and Burslem Port Vale, the football club which had started life as Singers FC in 1883, began its League career. It would be an additional poignancy to the crisis currently facing our Club, if the Centenary Year were to witness the end of the Sky Blues league status.
Historian and fellow JHW campaigner, Lionel Bird has researched CCFC’s accession to the Football League. Lionel discovered that Coventry City’s campaign to gain entry was based on:
- A well-equipped Highfield Road Ground capacity 24,000 … improvements were made subsequently to increase the capacity to 40,000;
- Good attendances;
- The team were a big draw at away grounds;
- It was a Club in a sound financial position;
- The population of Coventry had grown to 200,000.
Local employers were canvassed to procure financial support for the club. One shining example was that of Harry Smith, owner of the Rover Company, who agreed to pay the Highfield Road rent for the next five years.
We can only surmise of the benefits that CCFC could be enjoying from business partnerships, 100 years later, had Joy Seppala and Tim Fisher taken a more collaborative approach during their stewardship of the Sky Blues.
Tomorrow marks 50 days until Coventry City FC play what increasingly looks likely to be their final home game at the Ricoh on 28th April 2019.
The EFL Board Meeting which was held on Wednesday was inconclusive. The update from CCFC management could not confirm where the Sky Blues will be playing after this season but what is now apparent is that other venues are actively being considered as an alternative to the Ricoh, despite many previous statements to the contrary from CEO, Dave Boddy and Chairman, Tim Fisher.
As expected, no decision was reached by the EFL with regard to the club’s future, except that 2nd April will be the date on which a notice of an Extraordinary General Meeting, to be held on 25th April, will be issued if nothing has changed fundamentally by then.
In the absence of a resolution which allows CCFC to remain at the Ricoh, in less than 7 weeks CCFC faces the unacceptable alternatives of Expulsion or Exile.
Next week, on a date and at a time not revealed, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright has convened a meeting of ALL parties relevant to the Ricoh dispute.
It is entirely proper that few details have been made known, this engagement needs to take place in an arrangement of confidence and trust. Even though the Jimmy Hill Way Campaign and the Sky Blue Trust have lobbied extensively and successfully to bring about this process, we respect entirely the need for discretion and consequent lack of detail provided to us.
We do understand that other local MPs from Coventry & Warwickshire will also be present in addition to Mr Wright who is the member for Kenilworth & Southam. It is believed that representatives from CCFC/Otium, Sisu, Coventry City Council and Wasps will attend, though the identity of the representatives is not known.
It is hoped that all the parties will take this meeting seriously and that their most senior people will engage with the Government and MPs. Most importantly, we urge them all to demonstrate a willingness to find a resolution, crucially that must include the suspension of the adversarial litigation, in order that conciliation can succeed.
If that first step is taken by the representatives of Sisu and CCFC, as it should be, we have faith that progress can be made towards a deal for future seasons at the Ricoh. However, if no such goodwill is shown by Joy Seppala and Tim Fisher, the chances of success will be very low.
Tonight, Coventry City take on Burton Albion in a game that could further enhance the Sky Blues play-off credentials.
We hope that City fans are still able to enjoy the football produced by Mark Robins and his team and that a promotion push remains possible. Off-field matters will not be far away from many supporters’ minds though.
Steve Fay has organised another March from the Cherry Tree Club in Lythalls Lane, leaving at 7pm ahead of the 7.45pm kick-off. It is also intended that a sit-in takes place after the match. As before, these activities are expected to be lawful demonstrations to raise awareness of the Club’s plight, particularly the part played by Sisu and associates in the deepening crisis.
Anyone joining Steve on the March is invited to take banners and make plenty of noise on the route and around the Ricoh.
The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign