It was yet another good weekend on the field for Coventry City with a thumping 5-1 victory over Walsall. However off the field issues surrounding the Ricoh Arena have now truly come to the fore.
Lets kick off with the issues surrounding the Ricoh. Attributing the blame for the situation we find ourselves in is something that many people have struggled with. I am not surprised by this as all parties involved are to blame in some way or another.
The first people at fault are the individuals who decided that the move from Highfield Road to the Ricoh was a good idea. This was misinformed and misguided decision which has been a massive thorn in the side of the club ever since. Not only was the decision to move there ridiculous but so was the rental agreement that was put in place. The cost of rent was and is extortionate, yes it is a fantastic stadium but no other comparable football club to ours even comes close to what we agreed to pay. How these people also thought that we could survive as a club with no deal in place to allow some access to match day revenue is just unbelievable. The deal as a whole is so heavily weighted against the club it is unbelievable that the club agreed to it.
Sisu are the next people to blame. We all knew that part ownership of the Ricoh was essential in balancing this deal out. This was one of many promises made by Sisu when they took over the club but like many other things they failed to deliver on this and for that reason they are at fault.
The Council are also to blame through their clear negligence of the city’s football club when the deal for the Ricoh was put into place. We all know a football club has the power to inspire a city and well the council clearly didn’t take that into account and put their own personal gain first.
They also; which many people don’t know; were the people who brought Sisu to the table. It was from their recommendations that Sisu were able to take control of our club who have since brought the club to its knees and destroyed it from within an inch of its life.
I am however now going to defend Sisu. They are quite possibly one of the most naive and at times inept owners of a football club in the country. Lets just say you couldn’t count all their mistakes using your fingers and toes.
However they have continued to fund us when no one else would. They also have taken positive steps in the last few months both on the field and off it. Examples are obvious with the appointment of Mark Robins as manager and I will probably get slated for this but I think Fisher and Waggot have actually been good appointments and are doing a good job in difficult circumstances.
These issues with the Ricoh have obviously came to the fore front because of Sisu and their refusal to pay the rent. Now I don’t agree with the way Sisu have gone about their business as it is not an honourable way to do things but I do agree that something had to change. Maybe this was the only way to force change as ACL the current owners did seem very reluctant to deal with Sisu. They were definitely using the fact that the fans have a very turbulent relationship with Sisu to scupper any new deal that was put forward.
ACL are therefore also to blame in that they seem to have only thought of themselves in relation to the rent. They themselves must realise the club cannot afford that sort of money, it just isn’t sustainable.
However the likelihood an agreement not being reached, is very unlikely. I don’t care what the club or ACL say as everything they say is for the media, it is clearly not the whole truth. The club needs ACL and the Ricoh and they need the club its as simple as that.
We as a club couldn’t play at another ground as there are no other grounds within the city of Coventry, it just isn’t a viable option. I also don’t believe ACL when they say they could function as a venue without the football club. The football club has been creating vast revenue for ACL not only from rent, but from matchday sales, they also advertise the stadium constantly within the world of football which also results in the naming sponsorship. That deal is worth a lot of money and I can guarantee that if Coventry City Football Club pulled out so would Ricoh the stadium sponsors.
All in all I feel that there is nothing to worry about in this situation. The end result will be a compromise on the rent price probably around the £300-350,000 mark plus the add on of access to some match day revenue for the club. It’s a fantastic venue and we should be paying more than other League one clubs for the privelage to use it, but in its current state it just isn’t sustainable.
Getting back to the football though and I witnessed what could only be described as actual clear progression. It wasn’t just the 5-1 scoreline it was the manner in which we achieved it.
There was hardwork, there was passion, there was talent and something that I think has been missing for along time there was a high level of fitness throughout the side. It was also the first time since 2009 that Coventry City had come from behind to win a game and we won it comfortably. It was a fantastic performance and if we keep that sort of level up then this set of players has every chance to lead the club to better times.