THE CONTROVERSIAL move that saw the Sky Blues play their ‘home’ games in Northampton has had a positive impact on one local club after Coventry Sphinx more than doubled their home attendance figures.
Thousands of Sky Blues fans have decided to boycott games at Sixfields Stadium some 35 miles away from the city.
And it seems some of those who have decided to boycott have turned their attentions towards the Midland Alliance League outfit.
Luke Hopkins’ side finished the 2013/14 campaign seventh in the table but are top of the league when it comes to home attendances for league games this season.
Figures at Sphinx drive have increased by 110 per cent from last season and the Easter Monday fixture against Coleshill attracted a bumper crowd of 280, which was the highest recorded home attendance for any team in the league this season.
“The last thing we want is to make money off the demise of Coventry City Football Club but I think we are seeing more disillusioned fans attend Sphinx games.” chairman Danny Cahill told the Observer.
“What we’ve seen is more fans coming along when Coventry City have been playing at Sixfields and we get more fans come along because they didn’t fancy going along to the away games.
“It is always our intention to ensure the life-blood of our club, the supporters, are made welcome and feel entertained and looked after.”
More people through the gate at Sphinx Drive is providing much-needed income to put the club on a sound financial footing as they build for the future.
Three seasons ago under the reign of Danny McSheffrey, brother of former Sky Blues star Gary, Sphinx came close to winning the league.
And looking ahead under the stewardship of former player Hopkins, Cahill is hopeful the club can continue up the football pyramid in the future.
“Funds obtained through increased gate receipts are ploughed back into our facilities and mean that we as a football club can continue to push forward to the next level.
“Last season we finished 14th in the Midland Alliance League and this season we’re on for a top six finish so it’s clear that we are progressing.
“Three years ago we could have won the league but we were very honest and open with the players and everyone involved with the club that we would not be going for promotion.
“We’re not going to spend above our means but at the same time we’re ambitious.
“We need around £70,000 to improve the facilities but we’re not going to get ourselves into financial difficulty.
“We are debt free and we will continue to take each season as it comes and any extra income will be invested back into the football club.”
Sphinx Sports Ground, on Siddeley Avenue, is a community asset with the pitches being used daily for the junior, youth and senior Sphinx sides.
And during the close season it is used by the Coventry Jets American Football team as well as being the venue for children’s football coaching with Soccerrockz.
In a bid to improve their commercial presence Sharon Taylor, a former Sky Blues Blues season ticket holder, has been hired as the club’s new commercial manager.
And she is looking to attract more sponsors who want to be involved with a club at the heart of the community.
“From the moment I attended my first game I knew that I would be supporting them for a long time,” she said.
“They have helped to re-ignite my love for football after I made the decision to not follow the Sky Blues to Northampton. I’d held a season ticket since 1987 but Sphinx have more than filled the void.
“Sponsors will not just be getting attention during the nine months of the football season, any pitch side or stand advertising will be seen by thousands of visitors throughout the year.”
As for the club’s performances on the pitch this season under the stewardship of Hopkins, Cahill feels the young manager has done a fantastic job.
And Hopkins himself is hoping to crowds continue to flock to Sphinx Drive as he sets his targets higher for next season.
He added: “Fan base coming through the gate for every game is the only realistic way a club can grow, and that’s what we want to achieve here at Coventry Sphinx.
“These are young players and they have really responded well to the support coming from the increased crowds on the touchline.”
Sphinx manager Luke Hopkins had done a brilliant job on the pitch this season according to chairman Dannie Cahill. Picture by Jon Mullis 49.013.019.cov.jm16