Christmas message from Joy Seppala

Mon 24 Dec 2012
Author: Joy Seppala

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Joy Seppala issues Christmas message to the Sky Blue Army

2012 has seen many changes at Coventry City Football Club (CCFC).

We had a change in league status to League One following relegation at the end of the 2011/12 season; have made changes in the playing squad with new players brought in and players going out over the summer, and took the decision to change the most important position in a football club – the first team manager.

Since we appointed Mark Robins on the 20th September, he has delivered everything he said he would in all his interviews with us.  Mark’s success has been based on hard work and ‘being the best you can be’ resulting in us losing only once in the last twelve games.

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We now sit in a mid table position giving us the platform to push for promotion in the second half of the season.

We now enter the busy festive period with three League games in just over a week. These will be quickly followed by two exciting Cup games as we first travel back to North London to play Tottenham Hotspur in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. We then try to take another step towards Wembley as we welcome Preston North End in the Johnstone Paint Trophy Northern Regional Semi Final.

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So lots for everyone to look forward to on the pitch which shows the changes we have made to the first team management and playing squad are beginning to reap rewards.

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To match the positive feel on the pitch I am also searching for common sense changes behind the scenes to ensure I can continue to fulfil the promises I gave to the Council, back in the summer of 2012, that were based on my commitment to deliver three key points:

1) On-going funding for a strong performing first team

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2) Funding a Category 2 Academy under the new Elite Player Performance Plan to protect our excellent reputation in youth development 

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3) Develop stronger links with the community.

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I strongly believe I have delivered on all the above requests from Coventry City Council and held up my side of the bargain. Now what I am hoping for, as we approach the end of the year and move in to 2013, is that we can reach agreement on the level of rent CCFC are asked to pay to enable us to continue to play at The Ricoh Arena.

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The support I have received over the last few weeks, on this well documented rent matter, from the Football Family of Professional and Non-Professional Clubs and their respective Chairmen has been overwhelming. The Football League have also just published information on what other clubs in League One pay to rent their stadiums and, it comes as no surprise, that it highlights the fact we are paying six times more than the average.

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The latest reduced offer from Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) quoted at £400,000, but with the additional business rates and match day costs took the actual cost to over £800,000, shows that ACL are thankfully changing their view on the rent. They are realising that the current rental cost of £1.3 million plus £170,000 in rates are unrealistic for a Football Club now in League One.

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Recent discussions with the Chairman of Doncaster Rovers revealed that following negotiations with their Council they have now agreed to pay £10,000 a year rent for their stadium and £7,000 for their training complex over the next ten years. No business rates are charged as both facilities are Council owned. Prior to this agreement this Club was being charged £1 million a year rent and were also relegated at the end of last season. There is a theme emerging here on high rent charges taking money away from the quality of the first team, resulting in under performance and under achievement.

A New Year to me is always about new hope and optimism that things will change for the better and my ambitions for 2013 are threefold.

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Firstly, that we can change the atmosphere around the rent negotiations so we quickly arrive at a new agreed sensible rent. Secondly, that we continue to develop new and more positive relationships with all key partners across Coventry and Warwickshire.

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Finally, that my first team manager Mark Robins continues to deliver the success on the pitch that all concerned with CCFC desperately seek.

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I sincerely hope 2013 will be a year that brings about positive changes for all of us who support and cherish Coventry City Football Club and the role it plays within our lives.

- Joy Seppala -

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