Sky Blues International Day Goes Ahead

01 April 2013 11:17
Jonathan Strange on SBI and the problems caused by moving the game

Sky Blues International Day. Arranged - and rearranged - at very short notice, it was nonetheless a happy occasion.Standing in the home dressing-room as Tynan showed us round, I felt a tiny hand squeezing mine. In my surprise, I looked down on a little boy so rapt in wonderment at all he could see that he had mistaken my hand for his Daddy’s. He will never forget his day out and he will be a Coventry City supporter for the rest of his life, the football club inseparable from his soul.Last week, in contrast, I sat in the High Court listening to an array of strangers debating point and counterpoint, and hearing a judge referring not to the Sky Blues but to ‘Coventry football club’. A fortnight ago, the playing-field was the House of Commons.It is a tragedy laid bare, and far removed from the events of 1987 which brought together and galvanised an entire community. And wherever the truth, it lies a long way from the touch paper that has lit the fire for so many a little boy.Despite only being able to confirm SBI Day at less than four weeks’ notice, we were glad that members from Malta, Norway and United Arab Emirates were able to take part. We are very grateful to Tynan Scope for facilitating such a successful event.SBI Day and the advanced travel arrangements of other CCLSC members had been the topic of attention. On 13 March 2013, the football club announced that the Doncaster Rovers fixture, scheduled for 30 March 2013, was being brought forward by twenty-four hours. There was immediate and widespread criticism, especially from CCLSC/SBI members.On 16 March 2013, the committee of CCLSC/SBI decided unprecedentedly to issue a public statement:Coventry City London Supporters’ Club which includes Sky Blues International deplores the decision of Coventry City Football Club to rearrange the Easter fixture against Doncaster Rovers at such extremely short notice. We would be failing some of the football club’s most loyal supporters if we did not make our disgust at their treatment more widely known.Easter Saturday would have been Sky Blues International Day. Some SBI members have been left out of pocket as a result of not being able to rearrange flights; they and other CCLSC members have also purchased advance price train tickets that are now worthless.And why has this happened? Because, with the connivance of the Football League, Coventry City and Doncaster Rovers decided that their players should have an extra day’s rest. When you book tickets for a concert, for instance, you do not expect to be told a fortnight before the event that it has been brought forward 24 hours just in case the musicians get too tired.Were the Football League reminded that aside from the cost to long-distance supporters and inconvenience to others, Good Friday in Coventry is a working day? And what has the football club said about it? There has not been a single public acknowledgement of the inconvenience nor any public apology. The only comment on the website says that ‘it makes perfect sense’ and that ‘we are glad everyone has agreed to the decision’.Why did such ‘perfect sense’ take until 17 days before the game to assert itself rather than 284 days ahead when the fixtures were originally published? Who is the ‘everyone’ that ‘has agreed to this decision’? My only reply from the football club informed me that the club ‘is not in a position to offer any refunds’ over travel arrangements. As a result of this, the CCLSC committee has decided to provide at least a token payment to those CCLSC/SBI members who can demonstrate that they have been left out of pocket. Please contact Jonathan Strange.David Meredith, who has worked tirelessly to foster Sky Blues International, has announced his resignation as secretary in disillusionment at this contemptuous treatment of fans. We can entirely appreciate his position. We shall also be deeply sorry to lose him.We thank David Meredith for his contribution to SBI and warmly welcome Ian Davidson as his successor. We also welcome Amy Hornbrook from Auckland in the new role of SBI Australasian coordinator.On 17 March 2013, the football club issued the following statement:Coventry City Football Club is currently working with Coventry City London Supporters’ Club which was upset by the decision to move the Sky Blues’ home fixture with Doncaster Rovers. City’s clash with Rovers had been rearranged from Easter Saturday to Good Friday at 3.00 p.m., bringing the fixture in line with every other League One game that weekend.Coventry City chief executive Tim Fisher said: “We have been in conversation with Jonathan Strange and representatives of the London Supporters’ Club and we appreciate their frustrations.“We plan to continue those conversations over the next 48 hours to see if there is a suitable solution for all parties.“We are aware of, and hugely appreciate, the effort put in by the London Supporters’ Club to keep our international supporters in touch with the football club from afar, something which was to be celebrated at the Doncaster game. “However, we were to be the only game on Easter Saturday, giving us 24 hours less rest than all the other teams at a very busy and important time of the season. Something I am sure people understand was not a good situation.

“The game has also been designated a Kids For A Quid fixture and we hope to attract a good crowd for what is clearly an important fixture.”The original statement from CCLSC was accompanied by the following observation:We have always prided ourselves on an impartial public stance over issues regarding the football club. This is the first time in 37 years that we have felt it necessary to express any public criticism. We feel that it is a very sad thing that the club should treat its supporters in this way and deplore the Football League’s decision to allow this preposterously late rearrangement of the Doncaster game.I am having constructive discussions with Tim Fisher who has expressed his apologies for the inconvenience caused. We are confident that we will reach a satisfactory resolution.However strong CCLSC’s feelings on this particular issue, we do not see it as a justification for indulging in more general public criticism of the football club, least of all at a time of delicate negotiation with the chief executive. These are unprecedented times for Coventry City. The club needs our support

Source: Coventry MAD