There has been some potentially positive news coming out of the club in the past week or so with SISU’s Joy Seppala finally deciding to communicate with the fans.
We as supporters have been calling for communication and the relationship between SISU and the fans and it would potentially be a lot better if they had done this from the very start.
Certain aspects of the interview she gave offered interesting and potentially positive steps that the club are looking to take. The main thing that stood out for me was the suggestion that they would be looking at ways that they could transfer an ownership stake in the club to supporters.
A fans stake in the club is an essential aspect to have at any football club and it helps to make fans feel more involved with the club. It also ensures that people who have the interests of the club at heart are able to have some say in what goes on at the club. Fans are the lifeblood of every club and without them the club would not exist so it seems right that fans should have at least some stake in the club, not just for financial problems, but for our voices to be heard.
There are issues to consider in relation to the transfer of this stake in the club. Obviously there is the fact that relations between fans and SISU are now at an all time low. The circumstances of SISU’s initial takeover of the club is also a factor in that in order for the takeover to happen, fans had to give up their shares in the club for nothing. I’m sure because of this the fans would want SISU to return the favour and give them back for nothing but with the financial situation of the club I cannot see this happening. I hope I am wrong because giving back the fans stake in the club will go some way to repairing a relationship which at times has looked irreparable.
Another issue that has been of concern is that of the Ricoh Arena. SISU have now missed two months worth of payments on the rent which has been seen by some as a protest to the unquestionably high rent of £1.2million and by others as SISU just not having the funds to pay it. The rent is not sustainable for a League One club though and I think every one involved knows that.
Negotiations have and are supposedly continuing between SISU, ACL and the council over multiple issues surrounding the Ricoh Arena. The club itself does need to be able to make some form of income off of the stadium or at the bare minimum break even which we as a club haven’t done since we moved to the Ricoh.
It has to be said that this actually isn’t SISU’s fault, in that the rent on the Ricoh was agreed before they came to the club. However they did promise to buy into the Ricoh when they took over so in that sense they are partly to blame.
Politics has become an issue in the debate. The council have previously stated that they would be unwilling to do any sort of business with SISU over the Ricoh. It has been suggested that they are jumping on the band wagon and publicly criticising SISU in an attempt to win votes in the upcoming elections. There is every possibility that this is true but one thing we can all agree on is that some sort of agreement has to be reached for the sake of the football club.
These negotiations need to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later so the club can begin to look forward to next season. With the transfer embargo still in place the plans for next season in terms of the playing squad remain on hold. The accounts need to be filed to the Football League for this to be removed and this will not be done until the issues surrounding the Ricoh are sorted.
Whilst I am remaining sceptical over SISU’s running of the club it looks like they are going to be the owners for the foreseeable future. With no takeover bids in the offing following relegation to League One we as a club need to try to pull together. The council needs to consider how detrimental it would be for the city as a whole if it no longer had a football club.
Whilst there is clearly a lot of unresolved issues surrounding the club there has to be a starting point in which the club can move forward from. The reduction in the rent of the Ricoh is this potential starting point and could put the club back on a more solid basis so we can finally start considering a future for our club.