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 Trust, Preservation 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!
Report delivered at the Sky Blue Trust Open Meeting on Monday 28th November by David Johnson, as updated by subsequent events.
When the slogan “Fighting the Jimmy Hill Way” was originally coined, it was intended as a title for the March ahead of the Rochdale game on 22nd October. Subsequently, it was adopted to describe the alliance between various CCFC supporters’ groups including the Sky Blue Trust, CovFans2together, Preservation Sky Blues as well as some non-aligned activists who all want Sisu to “Sell Up and Go”. The leadership of the Jimmy Hill Way is independent from any of the main groups which come within the alliance.
The campaign team are very grateful that the Hill Family have given permission for Jimmy’s name to be associated with our activities. However, as well as being a privilege, this also carries the weight of responsibility. We are conscious that we must not do anything to tarnish his name or reputation.
There have also been rumours of people opposed to our aims, intending to approach Bryony Hill (Jimmy’s widow) with misinformation about our activities and even to implicate the Hill family directly in our actions, for which they have no responsibility and zero involvement. Whether these allegations are true or not, we are unwilling to risk any distress being caused to Mrs Hill or others in the family.
Therefore, we have agreed a division of responsibilities between members of the alliance.
• The Jimmy Hill Way will be engaged mostly in political actions and less controversial protests as well co-ordination of the overall campaign;
• Some protests will be carried out by individual groups with support from ourselves and other groups;
• More “edgy” demonstrations will be left to other people to organise, possibly with consultation but without involvement of the Jimmy Hill Way team. You can expect to hear the name “Sky Blue Glory Hunters” - referencing the daft tweet by Jordan Willis’s girlfriend after the recent defeat at Oxford - in connection with more radical activities.
Actions to Date
There has been a series of successful actions, either organised by the Jimmy Hill Way team or by our associates.
• The March was brilliantly conducted by the Sky Blue Trust with support across the alliance and the fan-base generally. West Midlands Police have confirmed that between 2,250 and 2,500 people took part. The Boycott which followed was not fully supported but we did not expect it to be, though official attendance at the game was considerably reduced from the norm and we know that large numbers of season ticket holders who boycotted, were counted in the official attendance. It was pleasing to witness the excellent camaraderie between those who went in the ground and those who stayed out.
• The “Wicked Witch” poster, a Halloween metaphor for the curse of Sisu’s ownership on Coventry City and the fact that Joy Seppala and her colleagues have outstayed their welcome, was undoubtedly controversial. It was also very effective in generating publicity and was well supported, with thousands of supporters holding up the picture at the appointed time.
• Our banner depicting the FA Cup with the slogan “The Football League does FA for Sky Blues Supporters” was prominently seen on TV during live coverage of the 1st Round tie at Morecambe. In the replay, the banner became a rallying point for chants of “Love City, Hate Sisu” by many in the small crowd.
• CovFans2gether staged a Mock Funeral at the last home game against MK Dons, an “omen” of the impending death of Coventry City brought about by Sisu. The main participants wore Anonymous masks and remained silent to represent the anonymity of Sisu’s investors whose true identity and purpose still remains a mystery after 9 years. The event was low key, created curiosity and discussion, then the on-going coverage that resulted exceeded expectations. The CCFC Floral Tribute was taken to the memorial plinth and plaque at Highfield Road and subsequently delivered to a Care Home in Tile Hill for residents to enjoy.
• And of course, there was the excellent “Flying Pigs” joint protest at the Valley, largely put together by Charlton Fans (CARD) with participation from Sky Blues activists. This followed a well-attended rally involving both sets of supporters on the way to the ground and achieved world-wide publicity for both Coventry City and Charlton campaigners in our stand against unfit owners, Joy Seppala and Roland Duchalet.
This is a key objective of our actions and in the last few weeks we have read some really helpful articles, including those by:
• Daniel Taylor in The Observer;
• Neil Moxley in the Daily Mirror;
• The BBC Sport website;
and there has been global TV coverage including an interview with Simon Gilbert of the Coventry Telegraph, conducted by Richard Keys and Andy Gray on Bein Sports.
Coverage by the Coventry Telegraph has been extensive and linked to their excellent work on the petition calling for Sisu to “Sell Up & Go”. BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio have given plenty of airtime to our activities.
What Will This Achieve?
The aim is to embarrass Sisu and the Football League while gaining empathy and support from the political establishment. The intervention of Damian Collins, Chair of the parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, into the affairs of Coventry City is one such example of political support from beyond the boundaries of Coventry. Mr Collins has offered to mediate in the dispute between Wasps / ACL and CCFC.
Joy Seppala is known to avoid publicity, both personally and for her business. Having the troubles of Coventry City FC linked to her hedge fund on a regular basis will certainly not help her attract investors or retain existing clients.
It is uncertain whether supporters denying funds to the club by a Not One Penny More strategy will influence Sisu and it may just hasten the demise of the Sky Blues. However, the negative publicity that becomes attached to Sisu from widely reported protests, might just persuade Ms Seppala that any gain from holding on is not worth the pain. It is frankly difficult to understand why she and her investors have not exited already. We hope (rather than expect) that the announcement on 1st December, that Sisu have been refused leave to take the Judicial Review to the Supreme Court, may hasten their departure.
Relentless Pressure Needed
No single protest will suddenly bring about our goal, our strategy has to be keeping up relentless pressure. Our intention is to be like a constant, nagging toothache which may finally persuade Sisu that enough is enough.
That means this will be a long campaign and that needs plenty of innovative, eye-catching initiatives that will interest the press and media. If the Jimmy Hill Way can’t be directly involved with a particular action, we know that there are those amongst our allies who can pick up the challenge.
A large collection of challenging questions has been sent by the campaign team to the Supporters Consultative Group, covering a wide range of on-field and off-field issues facing the club. While the SCG is generally thought to be ineffective, sadly it is the only accepted channel for communication between supporters and the club.
Therefore, we set out to do the SCG’s job for it, by asking questions that bring to City’s Directors and Owners the genuine concerns of Sky Blues fans. That this has been necessary should be an embarrassment to those on the SCG who fail to represent real supporters, when they fail to address the array of problems facing the club.
We requested that the SCG publish the questions in full within their meeting minutes, together with the answers from Tim Fisher or SCG Chairman, Jonathan Strange, as appropriate. Their November meeting took place on 30th November.
Regrettably, we understand that Mr Strange failed to uphold the undertaking that he had previously given, that all questions raised would be answered. A selection of our questions, along with some raised by other supporters, were published on the Club Website ccfc.co.uk in advance of the meeting, with limited responses, but other enquiries seem to have been ignored while some of the questions appear to have been doctored. In any case, this rather defeats the objective of the SCG which ought to be the forum where these matters are discussed.
We will await the circulation of the meeting minutes before taking further action. However, if the response from Mr Strange and Mr Fisher is as inadequate as we believe, then we will publish our full dossier of questions and insist that Mr Strange meets his commitment to obtain answers to all enquiries from supporters. There will certainly be follow-up to this activity, whatever the outcome this week.
Sheffield United is an important game for the Campaign as well as being a vital match for City. The only home league match in December, assuming that FA Cup replays don’t get in the way, is on a Thursday night on Sky TV. It is also close to the first anniversary of Jimmy Hill’s sad passing, so the club are intending to mark that with a minute’s applause on the 87th minute. We are considering various ideas for protests at that game, but at this stage we are keeping plans under wraps until nearer the date.
Discussions are on-going with fans groups at other distressed clubs (eg Blackburn, Blackpool, Charlton, Leeds, Orient) to see whether there are further opportunities for co-ordinated protests. The benefit of joint action was seen by the media reaction to the events carried out by City and Charlton fans, far greater than any single set of fans could attract.
Unfortunately, protests don’t come for free …. so far, it has been a case of organisers putting their hands in their own pockets which we have all done willingly, but we do need financial support as well as participation to make these events happen.
Having now set up a Bank Account, we are looking at the possibility of crowd-funding to raise money for our activities and those of the individual groups belonging to the Jimmy Hill Way.
We’ll Fight ‘Til the Game is Won!
That’s what Jimmy taught us! So until:
• Sisu Sell Up & Go; and
• We have new owners who actually care about CCFC and respect the fans; with
• A robust recovery plan that enables our once-great club to rise from the ashes;
We’ll Fight the Jimmy Hill Way!
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