Follow It's Round and It's White on Facebook

Book Review - Coventry City: A Club Without A Home

Wednesday 21st December 2016
Coventry City famously left their Highfield Road home in 2005 to play at the purpose built Ricoh Arena, but for a dark period of 18 months they moved out of nirvana to play at Sixfields Stadium, this is the full story behind what happened to the former Premier League mainstays.

Title: Coventry City: A Club Without a Home - The Fight Behind The Sky Blues' Return From Exile

Author: Simon Gilbert

Publisher: Pitch Publishing

Date Published: 2016

Price: £12.99 - Amazon

Cast your mind back to the late 1990's when Coventry City were one of those "other teams" in the Premier League that always seemed to avoid relegation, but could somehow attract big names to manage them: Ron Atkinson, Gordon Strachan, Iain Dowie, Chris Coleman have all had their turns behind the managers desk - some more successfully than others. The Midlands club also lured over some world-class players: Robbie Keane, Gary McAllister, Craig Bellamy and more recently Callum Wilson have all donned the outfit of the Sky Blues.

With this influx of talent and the big money that was available to teams in the Premier League, it seemed to be a no-brainer for the club to want to move to a bespoke, state of the art stadium. Not just a 45,000 seater football ground but an arena, hotel, concert venue and exhibition hall all-in-one that would help to supply the club with income 365 days a year, rather than just match-day revenue; the future for the Midlands club and their fanbase looked rosy.

However, the plans for the ground soon changed, gone were the retractable roof and sliding pitch and the capacity was reduced down to 32,500. Between the design stage and building of the ground the club had ended their 34-season run in the top-flight and were now plying their trade in the Championship.

Skip forward several seasons and the club, faced with going into administration, were taken over literally at the last available minute by investment firm SISU, however with little money channelled into the club by the new owners and selling of the better players, resulted in relegation down to League One. With dwindling attendances and left with paying over £1m in rent a year, the new owners start to withhold rent payments and a bitter feud brews with the Ricoh's landlords. This boils over when Coventry City do what was thought unimaginable by many; moving the club 35 miles down the M1 to Northampton Town's Sixfields stadium.

This is where it gets complicated, and also very interesting, and it's best left to read the book to find out all the intricate dealings and feuds (and there are plenty of those, that's for sure). Author Simon Gilbert expertly pieces together all the facts from the press reports along with conversations he's had with all the leading players in the debacle from Coventry City council, ACL (the landlords) and charity The Alan Higgs Trust, which had helped to fund stages of the development, along with old and new board members of the club as well as former Coventry City players and managers.

Gilbert had front row seats to the courtroom battles and he also helped to spearhead the Coventry Telegraph's campaign to see the club return back to the Ricoh, despite being a Sky Blue fan he puts forward an impartial view of the two decades of mismanagement of the club that has led to the current state of affairs.

The book charts the progress and key facts that have led Coventry City from the Ricoh Arena to Sixfields and back again, and Gilbert converses well with the players and manager at the time on how this all affected the team on-and-off the pitch.

If ever there was a guide on how to not to run a football club this is it. Gilbert has clearly put a lot of time and hard work into this book and I urge fans of the game, not just Coventry City, to pick up a copy and read this as it highlights the dangers of clubs being taken over by nameless investment sources.
Mick Bates

Mick is a passionate fan of Coventry City and has watched from the sidelines (and had the privilege of seeing the inner workings during an exciting two years in corporate sales there) to see the once mighty Sky Blues fall from the Premier League, then fail to sparkle in the Championship, relegated from League One and wind up in League Two before winning the most important fixture in football competitions - The Checkatrade Trophy final followed by a heart-stopping promotion back to League One.

As well as supporting the Sky Blues, Mick appreciates all levels of football and loves a good book to keep himself entertained as well as a few hours on FIFA or Football Manager as time allows.

He also keeps an eye on all the major English leagues and regularly enjoys a flutter looking for that elusive treble! 

Total articles: 129

Latest Reviews Articles