A battle may have been lost, but the war certainly isn’t over yet. As anger amongst Coventry City supporters hit a new crescendo at the end of last week following the decision by the administrator of the club, Paul Appleton, to sel...
A battle may have been lost, but the war certainly isn’t over yet. As anger amongst Coventry City supporters hit a new crescendo at the end of last week following the decision by the administrator of the club, Paul Appleton, to sell it back to, effectively, the company that had put it into administration in the first place, albeit via a different legal entity – exactly the sort of legal sleight of hand which give the industry such a bad name in the first place – it is starting to feel as if the times are a-changing, with a new spirit of protest having been born amongst some and even, albeit a tiny minority at the moment, are even starting to say that it might even be better to sever links and start afresh with a new club than to continue to fund SISU’s desecration of their club.
The Football League’s statement on the matter of the take-over itself was cagey, to say the least. Given the way that they seemed to raise an eyebrow at the whereabouts of the elusive Golden Share, which seemed to have gone missing somewhere deep within SISU’s corporate structure and which still hasn’t been absolutely clarified, and their reaction to the messy situation that Portsmouth FC found itself in earlier this year, which resulted in the League intervening to state that it would only deal with the Portsmouth Supporters Trust as the preferred bidder for the club at that time, it might have been expected that the League would have been robust in its response to a short period in administration which seems to have run to the absolute contrary to the spirit of its own rules on that particular subject. Instead, all they could muster was this:
At its meeting yesterday, the Board of The Football League noted the decision of the administrator to accept a bid from Otium Holdings for the assets of Coventry City Football Club Limited (in administration). The League will now work with the administrator and the proposed purchaser with regards to the fulfilment of the requirements of The League’s insolvency policy.
This response, which might be described as either “cautious” or “cowardly”, depending on your perspective, doesn’t seem to have dampened the flames of anger amongst the club’s supporters. A petition to request that the Football League carries out a thorough investigation into this administration process has now reached almost seven thousand signatures, while the Sky Blues Trust took a coach-load of supporters to the London headquarters of SISU to demonstrate against the removal of the club to ground-share elsewhere whilst a new ground is built. Tim Fisher, the CEO of the club and a director of, amongst others, Coventry City FC Ltd (which was placed into administration towards the end of last season), Coventry City FC (Holdings) Ltd (which wasn’t put into administration towards the end of last season) and Otium Entertainment Group Ltd (which has agreed to purchase the club from the SISU-appointed administrator), has previously claimed that “the boat has sailed” on the club staying at The Ricoh Arena but that any ground-share arrangement will be temporary, with the club returning to a new stadium “in the Coventry area” in two or three years. How it will manage to get back in that space of time, though, remains something of a mystery, and the number of supporters who will actually follow them to Walsall, Birmingham City or whichever other ground some distance from the city of Coventry itself the club ends up playing at. We must refer back to the Football League’s own rules to establish what this might mean:
13.4 Ground sharing will only be approved at the discretion of the Board. The Board will not generally approve any ground-sharing arrangement where the club plays its matches outside the conurbation, as defined by the Board, from which the Club takes its name or with which it is otherwise traditionally associated.
The Football Le