COVENTRY City manager Mark Robins today called on stay-away fans to “let bygones be bygones”, adding “there are two sides to every argument”.
It follows the club’s biggest FA Cup giant-killing in its 135-year history with last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Premier League Stoke City, and the team moving into an automatic promotion position in League Two.
It comes amid apparent delays since Christmas to the club securing the short-term deal it is seeking to stay at the Wasps-owned Ricoh Arena for at least another year.
It follows a five-year multi-party dispute over club and stadium ownership that has contributed to some fans staying away from games in protest at the club’s owners Sisu, which has ongoing legal action concerning Coventry council’s 2014 Ricoh sale to Wasps, which gets the vast majority of revenues.
Robins, to applause from an audience of fans, issued a message to stay-away supporters live on BBC2’s fourth-round cup draw programme on Monday, urging fans to “stick together.”
Invited by the Coventry Observer at today’s press conference to expand on his “Let’s stick together” message, ahead of two important league games at Exeter tomorrow, then at home to Swindon, he said: “There are two sides to every argument.
“We’re asking people to look past that and see past that, and come and support the team and what we do, because those things are separate. We’ve separated those things.
“Any extra revenue that we get will come into running the football club and making sure we’re as strong as we possibly can be on the pitch.
“We can’t do it without them. Simple. We’ve had to sell players to make sure we’ve got a budget this year.
“We’ve got to make sure we’ve got all our ducks in a row. We’ve got to make sure everybody is working flat out and giving everything they possibly can, on a skeleton staff.
“There’s teams in this division that are spending far more than we have done on salaries and other things, on running the club in general.
“This is a really big club and we desperately want it to get back to where it needs to be.
“And for that we need everybody to stick together and need everybody to support our efforts.
“That’s by no means taking anything for granted. Every supporter that comes through the turnstile to watch us is valued, without a shadow of doubt.
“I think the atmosphere generated during the cup game.. you can’t buy that. You look back to the Checkatrade final and the amount of people we took (43,000).
“If we’re going to build a successful Coventry City, we need as many of those stay-away people, alongside those people who watch us every week, as we possibly can. Then we can take it forward quicker.
“We need to galvanise everybody and try and let bygones be bygones.
“It’s very, very difficult, and it’s easy for me to say. It’s very difficult for people to look past that.
“There will be difficulties. There are difficulties at every football club.
“You look at Brighton, for years when there were a lot of problems, with the move to the Withdean. It took 10 years to get the planning permission through and make sure there was a stadium built. Look at them now and the way they built that football club.
“We have to use those experiences of other football teams to build a successful and sustainable future for Coventry City.”