This week has brought about more revelations as Coventry’s off the field issues affect a whole other aspect of the club.
Financial problems are not rare within football and neither are the implications that come with them for the first team squad. We are yet to see the extent to which this situation will have on this aspect of the club with outgoing transfers not allowed until the summer.
One aspect of the club however which often goes relatively unnoticed and often unaffected by financial issues is that of a clubs academy. This is very different for us here at Coventry though with news that has emerged that because of unpaid rent and maintenance costs the academy have effectively been kicked out of their Alan Higgs centre home.
If it has not been bad enough over the past few weeks with the row over the Ricoh and uncertainty over where City would play their future home games it now seems to be affecting the Academy in the same way. The thing that is hard to understand though is the amount of money involved. With the Ricoh row we could all understand Sisu’s stance in that the rent was unbelievably high and not sustainable in any manner for a league one club. The academy on the other hand apparently owes a mere £14,000. This surely is peanuts and surely worth paying to avoid all of the stick Sisu are once again going to deservedly get for this.
If we genuinely cannot afford to then our financial problems are far worse than I had envisaged however I feel it’s more of a case that Sisu don’t want to put any money in even the smallest amount whilst there remains the risk that they are going to lose their grip on this club.
This situation is a whole new low for a club which is clearly going to have to rely on its academy in the coming seasons. With the financial fair play rules coming into force next season the club is going to be allowed very little if any money to spend on new players. This leaves our current squad which is likely to be broken up and our academy to choose from.
Our academy is widely respected in the football world but I fear it is not only going to have the obvious short term problems but will also adversely affect the club on a longer term basis. The issues being experienced now must be in the minds of the future talent that may come our way. It could be a catalyst for young talent to choose to go elsewhere and it’s going to be harder than ever to attract the right type of player we want.
All this has come at a time when the academy should be receiving praise for its hard work to create more talent which is now coming through into the first team squad. Saturday’s home match against Brentford saw a debut for 17 year old left back Ryan Haynes And a start for 20 year old striker Callum Wilson. These two along with other now established youngsters like Christie, Clarke, Thomas and Bigirimana who is now at Newcastle really show how important our academy is.
This decision by the club to now move the academy away from its home is going to negatively affect not just the youngsters who we currently have but also hurt the prospect of keeping hold of these youngsters come the end of the season when academy’s around the country try to snap up talent from elsewhere.
The one positive that we as Coventry fans have to cling onto for now is that because of our current situation it does give youngsters like Wilson and Haynes a chance at first team football which you would think would be a persuading factor in a youngsters decision to stay.
We do all know now though that the football world is no longer just about the love of the game and money plays a huge part in their decisions. The main focus is clearly going to be on the first team squad as the summer approaches with regards to who we can keep and who will leave. I for one will definitely be keeping one eye on the academy and praying that Rioch and his staff can find some way of convincing our youngsters to continue to ply their trade with us.
I still cannot get my head round why Sisu have chosen this course of action. Only months ago they invested into the academy in an attempt to allow us to be a category 2 Academy. This is a really positive step and actually some real investment into the future of the club. They seemed to realise the genuine importance of a good academy but I now question how much they do actually realise this.
It is a very small amount of money being asked for by the Higgs centre and the club has decided to try to renegotiate its continued use of it. This move to try to negotiate instead of just paying what they owe suggests that Sisu really have given up trying to move this club forward onto a better footing.
I would suggest that they are planning for their departure of the club and are reluctant to put any more money into the club. If this is the case then whilst all these negatives are hard to take right now the chance that Sisu will finally let our club go has to be worth it. We as city fans did give them chance after chance, some more than others but surely they have now burnt all bridges between them and the fans and there is now no coming back from this for Sisu.
It is time to move on and let go for Sisu but I continue to fear that even this academy situation is not the end of the bad news for us city fans.