A PETITION to save the Sky Blues academy in Coventry has been signed by more than 1000 people within days.
It has been launched by fans’ organisation the Sky Blue Trust, which is calling on all who care about Coventry City Football Club’s future to sign.
The Coventry Observer’s Save Our City campaign is also calling on Coventry City Council and the city’s sporting institutions to do more to ensure Coventry City Football Club retains a viable and sustainable presence in the city, amid the club and fans’ concerns it is being squeezed out in favour of rugby and Wasps, following a long running dispute with the club’s owners Sisu.
It follows Wasps last month submitting to the council a planning application to move its training facilities into the football club’s purpose-built youth academy at the Alan Higgs Centre in Allard Way, having obtained the Ricoh Arena on a massively extended 250-year deal not offered to Sky Blues for which the stadium was built, and on whose money it depended.
It also follows revelations in this newspaper from a leaked council email in January which proposed blocking any prospect of the football club moving to an expanded Butts Park Arena home of Coventry Rugby Football Club, a proposal which aimed to enable both traditional Coventry sporting clubs to access more vital revenues from commercial stadium activities.
Coventry City fans’ organisations – including the Supporters’ Consultative Group and the Sky Blue Trust – are protesting against the potential loss next year of the Sky Blues’ ‘lifeblood’ youth academy.
It has produced young stars such as Callum Wilson and James Maddison, and develops Coventry’s elite sporting youngsters, apparently in line with a democratically approved ten-year Coventry Sports Strategy.
The Sky Blue Trust’s petition – entitled Save the Sky Blue Academy – is aimed at the club’s owners, Coventry Sports Foundation, Coventry City Council and Wasps.
The petition states: “The Coventry City Football Club academy is critical not only to our football club but also the city of Coventry. It is part of the very fabric of our football club.
“Callum Wilson, Gary McSheffrey, Ben Turner and James Maddison are just a few of the Academy graduates in recent years. The development of players such as these and the many others who have come through the CCFC academy give us hope that one day our club will begin to prosper again.
“Without it the future looks bleak. We call upon all parties with an interest in the Alan Higgs Centre, the current home of the academy, to set aside historical differences and work together to ensure the future good health of the academy and our football club.”
The Sky Blue Trust is calling on all parties to ‘get round the table and sort out the academy’s future’.
Trust chairman Steve Brown said: “What we need now is supporters to spread the message. Don’t just sign the petition, tell other people you’ve signed it and get them to sign too. Tell your family and friends, the Academy is the lifeblood of our club and needs rescuing.
“If you use social media – Facebook, Twitter and so on – tell people on there you’ve signed. Get them to visit our website or our Facebook page and use the links to sign up.”
* SIGN THE SKY BLUE TRUST’S PETITION HERE…