Tag Archives: Coventry City FC

Not according to plan

I had planned to spend the weekend in London but changed my plans and stayed just one night so that I could go to the FA cup game against Coventry. 

Friday went well and according to plan.  I had no trouble finding a seat on the train to London and I was able to check into my hotel room early.  I spent the afternoon at Tate Britain, mainly to see the Year 3 exhibition of 3,128 class photos of London’s Year 3 children, over 76,000 children. A Guardian article described it as a portrait of “a city’s potential.” The smiling young faces in the photos left me feeling worried about the world in which they’re growing up. So I appreciated the laughs in the evening, when I went to see Frank Skinner putting on a masterful display of stand-up comedy at the Garrick Theatre.

On Saturday, my travel back to Birmingham and getting to the game went well but I don’t think the game went according to plan. Surely nobody would plan a goalless draw. It could have been worse; we would have lost if O’Hare hadn’t missed an opportunity to score right at the end. There was also some consolation in the novelty and the chants. The warmup before the game provided a first opportunity to see Moha Ramos, the substitute goalie, in action. And after the game, it was good to see Jude Bellingham giving his shirt away to a child.   I was in row 4 of the lower Gil Merrick stand, which felt far too low down to get a decent view of the game but it gave me a renewed appreciation for the view from my seat in row 18 of the Kop.

I was disappointed that we didn’t score during the game but was glad I’d gone. It would have been a pity to miss seeing Birmingham City playing away at St Andrew’s.

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Coventry in the Cup, gambling and Blues news

As the BBC website said in its report: “In front of a paltry St Andrew’s crowd of just 2,697 on a foul night, Coventry set up a first meeting with Birmingham since beating them 3-2 in the League Cup at the Ricoh Arena in August 2012.” And we’ll be playing as the away team in our own stadium. I went to the game and enjoyed it. I find watching football much less stressful when I have an interest in a game but no deep emotional attachment.  I wanted Coventry to win so that Blues could play away at St Andrew’s but if Coventry had lost, I wouldn’t have felt as distressed as I do when Blues lose.

Gambling and football

On Sunday, there was an article on the Guardian website about the gamblification of football and the relationship between the Premier League’s income from media and gambling.

“The basis of the Premier League’s immense wealth is its media rights, sold to broadcasters and then on to viewers in packages costing as much as £50 a month. Manchester City versus Liverpool, of course, is a very easy sell, Norwich versus Bournemouth not so much. But a bet can turn an armchair viewer into a Canaries fan for 90 minutes and boost the audience for lesser matches, while the package prices might rise without the revenue from adverts in the breaks.”

The most recent issue of When Saturday Comes, Issue 395,included an editorial on the incongruity of Wayne Rooney’s video about his problems with gambling being produced by 32Red, the betting company that funded his arrival at Derby. It included the information that “16 of the Championship’s 24 clubs have gambling firms on their shirts”.

The good news is that using credit cards to gamble is going to be banned. A BBC article said that “there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability.”

Blues news

Last weekend started well with a win against Luton. The timing was different to the Blackburn game but the events were repeated. Birmingham scored first, the opposition equalised with a penalty, then Birmingham scored again and Harlee Dean was sent off. Reports said that it wasn’t pretty and a tweet from Brian Dick said, “#bcfc have no need to apologise for that victory, substance over style is no bad thing. Hopefully the last two matches are a small acorn that will grow into something much more stable. Striker help so obviously needed, though.”

Blues Trust published a post designed to help readers decide if the sale  and leaseback arrangement of St Andrew’s is a good or bad thing. It’s worth reading if you are interested in how the club is being run. Blues Trust’s view is that it would have been helpful if the club had been more open when the Trust asked about this in May and said, “major issues affecting the club need good communication and sometimes consultation”.

On Monday, an article on football finance included bad news on our financial situation but a nice tribute to our fans. “A shout out for the fans: ‘Despite their many issues, Blues have now seen their attendance rise 5 years in a row from the 15,457 low point in 2013/14, which reflects very well on their supporters. In fact, the 22,483 attendance last season was the highest since they were last in the Premier League in 2011.’” 

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Inadequate owners

Fan explaining Blackpool situation

Blackpool fans are rejoicing because their club has been put into receivership and that means the era of Oyston ownership is over. Blackpool’s game against Southend next Saturday will be the first home game since this happened and the Guardian reports that:

“Supporters are planning a party, starting with a celebration march from the promenade, and perhaps in some small way it can be a reminder for every other club that has inadequate or reviled owners, that things can change for the better, that it won’t always be one crisis after another, and that one of the reasons why this sport pulls us in, why it is so damn addictive, is that the bad times always make the good ones seem so much better.”

The same article includes accounts of other owners who have endangered the futures of their football clubs. Charlton’s owner has suggested that the Football League buy the club.  There are reports of Bolton not paying staff and players. Notts County is at the bottom of League 2 and HMRC has issued a winding-up petition against it. If Coventry City can’t find a place to play next season it could be expelled from the league.

Not all owners are inadequate or bad but there have been enough problems to suggest that the system needs changing.  There needs to be a better way of ensuring that people who buy football clubs are fit and proper and also know something about the football business. When problems occur there needs to be a way of sorting them out quicker.

Blackpool is one example of how long it can take to get rid of a problem owner.  Owen Oyston bought the club in 1988. His wife and then his son took over after he was convicted of rape in 1996. Valeri Belokon bought a 20 per cent stake in 2006 and became chairman. Owen and Karl Oyston began suing fans who criticised their ownership on internet forums. Five managers came and went in the space of two years and 27 players left before the start of the 2014-15 season. In 2016 some fans started to boycott games and pledged never to return until the Oystons had left. Valeri Belokon instigated court proceedings against the Oystons. On November 6, 2017 the Oystons were defeated in the High Court and ordered to buy out Valeri Belokon’s shares for £31.27m after it was found they had “illegitimately stripped” the club. You can read the timeline  yourself if you want all the gory details.

As a Birmingham City supporter, I know what it feels like to have an owner convicted of money laundering. I can sympathise with other fans whose clubs have inadequate owners. That is why I believe that there needs to be an independent regulator for English football. Let the English Football League concentrate on organising the leagues and let someone else regulate the business of football.

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Thoughts on Sunday and today’s game

It is a pity that Sunday’s game is probably going to be remembered for the clappers that were used as missiles rather than for anything that happened on the pitch.  Clappers, inflatables, big flags and flames are not necessary to create an atmosphere at a Birmingham City versus Aston Villa game; you only need the fans. Continue reading

Fans not numbers

Values are important in football. To quote from an earlier post that I wrote: “I believe that it’s good for managers, players and fans to be grounded in the world outside football, with family, friends and values that keep them from being crushed by what happens on the pitch.”  Continue reading

Do we care about Cardiff?

What do Birmingham City fans mean when we sing the words, “All we care about is BCFC” or wear them on scarves round our necks?  I assume and hope that this is hyperbole. We care about a lot of other things in addition to caring about our club.  Continue reading

More change needed

On Tuesday evening it felt as though everything had changed for Birmingham City.  It had only been a couple of weeks since one manager was sacked and eight days since a new one was appointed.  Our previous home game on October 25th had ended 0 – 8, utter humiliation, but hope was renewed following our no-score draw away on November 1st. The crowd too was transformed, from miserable silence to loud support.  I stayed to the end of the Bournemouth game because the team that had capitulated were my team and I felt I needed to be there as long as they were on the pitch. On Tuesday night, I stayed because I wanted to. Continue reading

Not simple

Today’s page in my Worst-Case Scenario Daily Survival Calendar lists 18 ways of soothing babies, some of which are contradictory. For example, the list includes

  • Go outside
  • Go inside
  • Put on soft music
  • Put on loud music
  • Turn off music

It reminds me of the advice that some fans direct at Lee Clark. Some sound as though they believe that if he followed their advice and changed one thing, then a losing situation could be instantly transformed into a winning one. Life is rarely that simple and managing a football team never is. And the financial mess and uncertainty at Birmingham City’s must make it worse. Continue reading

Bears and other animals

Beau Brummie and BelleThere’ll be a mascot race at Edgbaston this evening, to mark the first of the T20 games.  Among those taking part will be a blue elephant, Coventry City’s Sky Blue Sam. According to an article1 on the Edgbaston website, the race is back by popular demand after the thrilling inaugural race last year.   Continue reading

Protests and boycotts

Today on Radio WM, Adrian Goldberg1 posed the question, “Should Birmingham City fans boycott matches at St Andrews?” He interviewed Ash (full name not given) who runs the “BCFC fans united -protest group” Facebook page and Twitter feed. This group believes that Blues fans should boycott home games.      Continue reading

It can get worse

Small crowd at the Ricoh

Small crowd at the Ricoh

I remember thinking, “I can’t imagine anything worse than this,” as I looked at the sprinkling of supporters that made the Ricoh arena seem vast.  It’s bad enough at St Andrews when the crowd is small but less than 11,000 in a 32,000-seater stadium felt worse.  Even though Coventry knocked Birmingham out of the League Cup, I left the game feeling sorrier for their fans than I did for myself. Coventry City had been relegated to League One the previous season, didn’t own a stadium and faced an uncertain future. Continue reading