Coventry City fans had plenty to smile about last week with the arrivals of Elliot, Fleck and Kilbane to the club.
These were promising signs for the club as both quality and experience were being added to the squad. After weeks and months of uncertainty on whether we were going to be able to sign anyone or not, we were finally seeing new faces arrive at the club and there was now a light at the end of what has been a very long dark tunnel.
This light faded very quickly though as the news broke that one of our brightest youngsters was set to leave the club. It was confirmed hours later and the Coventry smiles which lasted a mere few days had disappeared. Gael Bigirimana was now a Newcastle United player.
Bigirimana was a refugee who arrived in England in 2004 after spending his early years of his life in the war torn African Country of Burundi. He had always had a love for football and after his arrival in England he took a chance and asked for a trial at Coventry City’s Academy. At this point he was turned down but after he was saw running from the academy he was quickly asked to return for a trial the next day. He impressed in the trial and was taken on by the clubs academy for the following campaign.
He was a young boy who was not only gifted but truly appreciated the importance of hard work. He applied this to both his football and his education with his dedication being shown by being the first at training and the last to leave as well as attending extra education sessions.
It was this dedication that not only led him to be brought into the first team in which he went onto make 28 appearances for the club but also led him to be named the Football league Championship Apprentice of the Year for the 2011/12 season.
He achieved all of this by the tender age of 18 and yet his feet remain firmly on the ground. At times he has shown maturity beyond his years and always talks about the success of the team and his teammates as being the most important thing. This selfless attitude is why he is a popular figure with the players and fans alike.
It was clear from his first appearance for the club that he was destined for a bright future in the game however as the season went on his form dropped which you do have to expect from someone so young playing in such a pivotal role in the centre of midfield in a struggling side. Despite this drop in form last season I think all Coventry fans were looking forward to seeing him in the team in the upcoming season.
He does have a lot of ability and works extremely hard for the team which could have led him to being a real asset to us in League One. But as of Friday last week his future lay elsewhere and he is no longer a Coventry City player. I do wish him all the best for the future, he seems like a great lad and is a fantastic role model for any aspiring young footballers.
I don’t know the intricate details of what happened with the transfer but it has been made out by the club that they had no choice but to let him go as the player wanted to leave to join Newcastle. Now this may be the case as it is a great opportunity for the player himself but I can’t help but think that SISU had a role in him leaving. He was one of the last remaining assets that the club had and I think SISU knew this and if the reports of £1million are correct then at this stage of his career it is not too bad of a deal. However in the situation we are in as a club, our youngsters are going to be the life blood of the club and we need them for the future.
Whilst £1million covers a couple of months of losses it is not a justification for selling a player that would not only be an asset in terms of the playing squad but would only increase in value the longer he spent at the club. It is just another example of the short sightedness of our owners.
SISU’s short sightedness has been shown in everything they have done and I think this has been their biggest downfall in their time as owners of the club. It includes player sales like Gael Bigirimana, not offering players a good enough contract to stay like Marlon King and not investing the money at the beginning to ensure that they had some form of sustainable income from the Ricoh Arena.
This short sightedness and not investing in the future of the club is why we are where we are today. We are now a club in the third tier of English football with at this moment in time very little hope of moving forward as a club. The light at the end of a tunnel just seems to be getting further and further away and my biggest fear still is that the light will go out all together.