September 29th, 2016

SAVE OUR CITY: Open letter unites Coventry City fans’ groups in ‘protest’ against academy move

Updated: 4:48 pm, Jun 15, 2016

A COVENTRY City fans’ group has called on people to ‘protest’ to protect the Sky Blues’ academy and the club’s future.

The prominent Coventry City Supporters’ Consultative Group has written an ‘Open Letter’ calling on all fans to protest and back a Save The Academy campaign launched last week by another fans’ group, the Sky Blue Trust.

The ‘Open Letter’ also calls on all parties to put aside ‘vested interests’.

The Coventry Observer last week also launched our ‘Save Our City’ campaign, calling on the Coventry authorities to preserve the Sky Blues’ academy in the city and calling for a better stadium deal for the 133-year-old football club which bears the city’s name.

A planning application to Coventry City Council was lodged a fortnight ago by rugby club Wasps to move into the Sky Blues’ purpose-built academy facilities at the Alan Higgs Centre in Allard Way where the football club’s lease expires next June, and where there are also plans for a council-backed 50metre swimming pool.

The Coventry City Supporters’ Consultative Group’s (SCG’s) purpose is to act as a liaison between the club and fans, and it holds regular minuted meetings with CCFC board members.

We reported last week a clarion call for the whole of Coventry to support the club and its crucial youth academy – which produces young stars and supports youth talent – from the SCG’s chairman, Jonathan Strange, a musician and biographer of Coventry City 1987 FA Cup hero Keith Houchen.

His call for the city to protect the football club and its academy has now been backed by other SCG members in the Open Letter.

Coventry City’s home the Ricoh Arena was sold by Coventry City Council and the Alan Edward Higgs Charity to rugby club London Wasps in 2014 on a 250-year lease not offered to the football club.

The Open Letter reads:

AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE SUPPORTERS’ CONSULTATIVE GROUP

Coventry, City of Peace and Reconciliation, aspiring City of Culture, is the focus for a legacy that has been at its heart now for 133 years. Coventry City Football Club has given voice to the community at its most confident but also during more vulnerable times. The team continues, through cheers and tears, to stimulate the reputation of the city to which it belongs.

For a long time, an important aspect of this reputation and culture has been the Coventry City Academy. The Academy is a school of excellence that devotedly nurtures outstanding talents, talents such as those of Callum Wilson and James Maddison. It is an environment in which youngsters are inspired to develop their skills but also where they learn about life. It is more, much more, than just a gymnasium or a football pitch.

The Coventry Academy is ranked fifth out of all the seventy-two clubs in the Football League. Increasingly, it feeds the very lifeblood of our football club, providing the first team with fifty-three players over the last eighteen years.

The future of the Academy and its Category 2 status is under direct threat. Wasps have submitted a planning application for the Academy’s home at the Alan Higgs Centre in Allard Way.

The Supporters’ Consultative Group is representative of a variety of Coventry City supporters, supporters’ organisations, and demographic groups. It includes, among others, members of the Sky Blue Trust, Coventry City London Supporters’ Club/Sky Blues International, Sky Blues in the Community, Coventry City Former Players’ Association, Coventry City Diamond Club, Coventry City Vice-Presidents’ Club and Covsupport News Service.

The individual members of the SCG are united in deploring any potential threat to the stability and future of the Academy. We urge all parties to transcend vested interests and difficulties. The continuing primacy of this facility for the use of the Coventry Academy is of crucial importance both to the community and its football club.

We urge people to protest, and to support the Sky Blue Trust’s Save the Academy Campaign.

In the words of a well-known local writer, ’There is no virtue like necessity’.”