The summer lunch for the Diamond Club was held today The Ricoh Arena and was once again very well attended by close to 200 guests as well as several former players.
There were two surprise guests which added to the entertainment for the day, one of whom was former Sky Blue Claus Jorgensen who was making his Diamond Club debut. Claus is fondly remembered by al Coventry City fans as the player who scored the first goal at the new Ricoh Arena in the 3-0 win over QPR on 20 August 2005, with a diving header.
Joe Elliott interviewed Claus and asked him about his most memorable moment in football which was the Championship play-off final win for Blackpool over Yeovil in 2007. Claus moved to Blackpool on leaving Coventry at the end of the 2005/6 season. On his retirement from football Claus set up a floor maintenance company Unique Floorcare. Claus said he didn’t think he would get a chance to play at The Ricoh as his first 18 months at City fell short of the required standard and was surprised to be offered an extension, but he went on to score that first ever goal at The Ricoh.
Joe also interviewed another guest, long time Coventry City fan Bernard Warner. Bernard spent his working life as a sailor working first for P&O on cargo vessels and later becoming captain of a variety of cruise ships, his first command being the Oriana. He went on to command the Canberra among other ships and finished his career as captain of the Queen Mary II in which he had several memorable encounters including earthquakes, tsunamis and pirates. He was in Japan when the earthquake hit Tokyo and the resultant tsunami engulfed parts of Japan but fortunately his ship and all of the passengers and crew came to no harm.
Midway through our meal another surprise guest appeared. Bob Brolly walked in and was immediately seized upon by Joe Elliott and asked to say a few words. The Irish broadcaster is never short of something to say and he regaled us with a few humorous stories including the story of his being awarded the MBE for services to charity. On receipt of the letter, he first thought it was a parking fine, and then he thought it was a windup. He told us his wife thought MBE stood for Mrs Brolly’s Eejit. Bob was enrolled as a member of the Diamond Club and presented with his Diamond Club badge. To loud applause Bob stated that it would be crazy for Coventry City not to play their home games in the city.
Joe Elliott then took to the floor and spoke passionately about the state the club now finds itself in. He said it was surreal not knowing what is going on with the club, he said he felt empty. He then asked the assembled members if he should write to the CEO of the club Tim Fisher on behalf of the Diamond Club to inform him that these long-time supporters of this great club are not happy to play any home games outside of the city, the result was a unanimous vote in favour. Bob Brolly then interjected and suggested that copies should also be sent to the Football League as well as various media outlets including the BBC and Talksport. Joe promised to send the letter as soon as possible.
Joe called upon Ray Stevens to give us an update on his talks with Tim Fisher, both private and at the recent fan’s forums. Ray is the Diamond Club’s representative on the SCG (Supporters Consultative Group). Ray held nothing back and told us that Mr Fisher called him Big mouth. Ray, in the presence of many others, had been told my Mr Fisher that £45m of the debt held by Sisu had been written off, but at the forum meeting Mr Fisher then claimed the £45m to be directors’ loans that need to be repaid. He told us the Mr Fisher had phoned him at his home to ask advice on what needed to be done to which Ray replied that if instead of paying £30-35m to build a new stadium which is neither needed or wanted and budgeting for millions of pounds in rents and lost revenues though taking the club out of the city while a new stadium is being built, all on top of the money already spent and lost, a sum Ray thought to amount to about £120m, a budget which even some Premier league clubs might envy.
Ray said with that sort of money invested from the outset, the club would not be in the position it is now, but would almost certainly be pushing for honours in the Championship. We were told that a rent deal of £400k a year had been agreed as well as being granted parking revenue for 900 spaces at The Ricoh Arena, but the deal collapsed on revenues from food and drink on match days because the current owners of the franchise, Compass would only allow a tiny of money to be passed onto the club.
The floor was then given over to Kevin Heffernan who made a passionate speech about the proposed relocation of the Jimmy Hill statue, the gist of which was simply, “Over my dead body,” to which he received cheers and applause. Mr Heffernan reminded everyone of a previous Diamond Club lunch in 2010 where the statue appeal was launched and that £400 was raised within minutes from the members present. He also said that the proposal to relocated the sponsored bricks currently at The Ricoh Arena was absurd as they are part of the wall and removing them would be nigh on impossible and akin to a tenant taking the walls of their house when they moved.
Kevin told us that the club’s development director Steve Waggott was in negotiations to relocate the Academy at Stratford and urged that representations be made to the Football League to help keep the Academy in Coventry and to maintain its category 2 status which would be lost if it was forced to move. Kevin said that the future of the club is partially in the hands of the youngsters going through the Academy.
The afternoon was finished off with songs and jokes from Billy Bell
The date for the next Diamond Club lunch will be September 26th, which will be the20th anniversary of its founding.
Source: Coventry MAD