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A Cautionary Tale

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A Cautionary Tale

Post  Hieronymus on 2016-10-13, 10:16 am

As we all know we are having (another) poor start to the season, after (another) summer of turmoil and (another) change of manager. There are feelings of depression, a lack of energy to even discuss our plight. We are all fed up, many unsure if Moyes is the man to turn things around. Maybe we are cursed; all the injuries and talk of player unrest and 'player power'; even a 'rotten core'.  We have seen it all before, discussed and argued it to death, and have nothing else to add.

This time some think relegation is inevitable and might even be a good thing; get the 'dead wood' (whoever they are now?) cleared out; force Short to sell even. 

But are they right? 

This article about Coventry City starkly illustrates what can happen to a club sold to owners with no allegiance to the club, the area or the fans. I accept many on here will have no sympathy with Coventry City, but as an example of what can happen when 'business minded' owners take over I reckon it is a cautionary tale indeed. For all his faults, and for all his mistakes as an owner, most of us believe Ellis Short would never do to us what the Coventry owners have done to their fans. He really does care about our club so maybe we all need to keep Coventry Ciy in mind, and be very careful what we wish for.

Reading this today made me give thanks to the, oft-maligned, Bob Murray and Sunderland Council. At least we own the Stadium of Light, and the Academy of Light, which are both great assets. Now we have to leverage the other great asset of our club, the 40 odd thousand supporters that turn up week after week, through thin and thinner. We need to get behind our team, and our manager, and gird our loins for a fight for Premier League survival. Because nothing else but the top flight is good enough for OUR club and OUR fans. 

Strangely, feeling more positive now! KTF  love sunderland


Long, sorry decline of Coventry City leaves fans in a state of despair

The FA Cup glory of 1987 is a distant memory for the club lying bottom of League One with angry supporters blaming the owners and demanding they sell up

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 The Ricoh Arena, where dwindling gates have seen Coventry City slump the foot of League One. Photograph: Pete Norton/Getty Images
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Paul MacInnes
Wednesday 12 October 2016 11.15 BS TLast modified on Thursday 13 October 201600.40 BST

Thirty years ago next May, Keith Houchen stooped to conquer. A journeyman striker with Coventry City, who had nearly missed the 1987 FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur because of food poisoning, Houchen scored the defining goal of the match with a diving header of acrobatic grace. It was a goal that lived on beyond that game and helped seal a glorious chapter in the history of Coventry, who lifted the Cup for the first and only time. Today fans of the beleaguered club may be forgiven for thinking it was a dream.
Twenty years ago Coventry were a Premier League side. They were managed by Gordon Strachan, had David Burrows in defence, Gary McAllister in midfield and up front the deadly duo of Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby. Ten years ago Coventry were in the Championship, their long run in the top flight finally at an end and with the costs of a new stadium, the Ricoh Arena, hanging around their neck. At the end of 2007, the club were bought by the hedge fund Sisu Capital.
Now it is fair to say the club are in a state of absolute distress. Sitting at the bottom of League One with one victory in 11 games, Tony Mowbray resigned as manager on 29 September, leaving behind a group of players he called “babies in a man’s league”. Their last league match at the 32,609-seat Ricoh Arena was watched by a crowd of only 8,030. “Gates are 25% down on last season already,” says Jan Mokrzycki of the Sky Blue Trust, Coventry City’s supporters’ group. “People are either angry or just don’t care any more.”

Most of the anger is directed at Sisu, which still owns the club through a complicated series of companies. Sisu is blamed for a litany of faults, from a rent strike at the Ricoh Arena to the still controversial decision to temporarily move the club to Northampton, to a series of draining legal actions against Coventry city council and, most recently, an announcement that the club’s training ground – the club’s only substantial asset – had been included in a regional plan as a potential site for 75 new houses.
The most pressing concerns for Coventry, beyond their league position, are twofold: what happens when the club’s deal at the Ricoh Arena runs out at the end of next season and, more immediately, the continued existence of the club’s Category 2 academy, the club’s “lifeline”.
Both of these issues are complicated by the poisonous relations between Sisu and the council. It is the latter which owns the freehold on the Ricoh Arena, while another company, Arena Coventry Limited, holds the lease. In 2013 ACL was half owned by the council and half by a local charity, the Alan Higgs children’s charity. It is now owned entirely by Wasps Rugby Club.
After Sisu’s decision in 2012 to withhold rent on the basis the terms were too high for a League One club, ACL fell into arrears and the council agreed to loan the company £14.4m. Sisu promptly asked for a judicial review, claiming this amounted to inappropriate aid from the state. The subsequent review in the high court found in ACL’s favour, with the judge also accusing Sisu of “mismanagement” and finding it “had no strategy for maintaining a sustainable football club, except one that involved the purchase, at a knockdown price, of at least a 50% share in ACL and thus the Arena”. Sisu chose to appeal and this year that bid failed as the court of appeal ruled again in ACL’s favour. Sisu is now in the process of appealing once again, this time to the supreme court. Legal costs are currently thought to total more than a million pounds.
Discussions over a new 20-year tenancy for Coventry at the Ricoh Arena have ground to a halt while the legal action continues. Meanwhile, the club are unable to guarantee a home for their academy beyond the end of this year. The system that has in recent years produced Callum Wilson and the England youngster James Maddison is temporarily housed at a local sports centre. The council appear set to hand over that land to Wasps as the site of a new training centre.

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Coventry’s Jodi Jones, left, during the recent Checkatrade Trophy match with Northampton. Photograph: Pete Norton/Getty Images

When approached, Coventry city council refused to comment, while Sisu did not respond to requests for comment.
As for the club, they remain in a parlous position. “The club and its owners find themselves in an unprecedented and extraordinary situation,” a Coventry spokesman told the Guardian. “A lot of our challenges stem from one fact:Coventry City does not own its own stadium. [The club are] unable to commercially benefit from sales of food and drink, parking even. It has been this way for many years and we have not been able to persuade the various stadium owners to reconsider these challenges. We would like a long-term deal that keeps the Sky Blues at the Ricoh stadium. But we have not been successful in agreeing a deal that would be economically viable for the club.”
As for the academy and training ground, Coventry had the following to say: “Our academy site is now controlled by Wasps, which is keen to develop it as a training facility for its own players. For this reason, it is likely we will be looking for an alternative base to house our academy. We do, however, continue to explore alternatives with the help of the Coventry Sports Foundation – which is a partner of the city council.
“We have no immediate plans to sell our training ground. Rugby district council is in the process of producing a strategic plan for its area, an event that happens very rarely, and so we had an opportunity to apply for a change of use in the event of a move of our training site. To be clear: we do not plan to immediately move but felt this was a prudent piece of long-term contingency planning.”

What emerges from talking to people involved in this long sorry saga is a feeling of helplessness, that the club’s future is beyond their control. There is talk of the club living “hand to mouth” with no tactical, never mind strategic, direction of travel.
Last month supporters’ groups announced a plan called the Jimmy Hill Way, named after the club’s legendary chairman and manager. They joined together with the Coventry Telegraph in calling for Sisu to sell up. As yet they have had no response – but even if the will was there, any such deal would not be a panacea. The club reduced their operating losses to £1.9m in their last published results but the success was largely down to cutting running costs to the bone. This includes the wage bill. Mowbray nearly got Coventry to the play-offs with a team of loanees last season but left admitting he had been unable to pull a rabbit from the hat a second time.
“A fair chunk of people have just had enough,” says Mokrzycki. “They’ve gone to watch other teams, or they’ve gone to watch Wasps. Once we were respected in English football. Once we won the FA Cup. If Jimmy Hill could see where were now, he’d be mortified.”
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Re: A Cautionary Tale

Post  cyprussyd on 2016-10-13, 10:59 am

I fail to see how relegation could ever be a good thing and I dont expect it.

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Re: A Cautionary Tale

Post  Nostalgic on 2016-10-13, 8:52 pm

Lovely post and sentiments H,  like

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Re: A Cautionary Tale

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