I went to Sixfields Stadium in Northampton last night to watch Coventry play Leyton Orient in League One. It was my first experience of seeing Coventry play in Northampton since they left their purpose built 32,000 state of the art arena in Foleshill in the summer. I had a great time – the team played the best football I’ve seen in years, scored two absolutely stunning goals and beat the top of the league team easily 3-1. It cost £9 to get in, £2 to park and took only 20 minutes longer than it normally does for me to get to the Ricoh on the outskirts of Nuneaton. Admittedly there were only 2,386 supporters in the stadium but the atmosphere was good. It was far from an electric football atmosphere but it was positive – the main stand (the only stand open to City supporters) was buzzing with supporters eager to get behind the team.
The reasons why Coventry are playing in Northampton are complicated as a bitter battle between the company that bank role the football club SISU/Otium and the City Council (who – through holding company ACL – own the arena) goes on. The best explanation for the whole situation can be found by clicking here (written by Paul Knowles from the City fanzine GMK Online). The whole situation is ludicrous and doesn’t seem like it’s going to end soon – a fact reiterated by the head of Coventry council’s rambling statement yesterday afternoon. Ann Lucas – head of Coventry City Council and involved in the saga from the ACL side of things – released a 940 word statement in which she says both “The Ricoh Arena can survive without the club – there’s no doubt about that” and “Let’s sort this out now, and bring the club home for Christmas.” Somewhat of a contradiction in a long statement of very little substance – its release timed after a petition to bring the club back to the City was handed into their offices. More conjecture and a statement with more emphasis on gaining popularity with stay away fans than actually sorting the situation out. ACL need to come up with an action plan that is sustainable to both them and SISU – something with which they can’t do by just saying “it’s over to them”.
All the while Coventry fans bicker amongst themselves on forums calling each other scabs and tools for wanting to/not wanting to watch their team play home games. From what I can gather I’m a scab as I went to the game last night. However, if I was to go to an away game I wouldn’t be a scab. But, what if Coventry got to the play off final this year? The way the team is playing it’s a possibility. Would Sixfields be packed to the rafters with scabs for the home leg? How about the final at Wembley? Would Wembley Way be awash with Sky Blue scabs? As a massive money spinner for the club that a lot of fans refuse pay “not one penny more” to and the first semblance of success in a number of years it would be interesting to see what happened. I for one would love it as I’m a Coventry supporter and want to see them do well. Admittedly I don’t go often and don’t live in the city but I really think Coventry supporters should really stick together during the current situation and support their team. It’s far from satisfactory situation what’s going on behind the scenes but the team need the support and it’s a team playing excellent football under a good up and coming manager at the minute. As a City fan, why deprive yourself of that?