City's Executive Vice Chairman talks everything Sky Blue in his final PUSB matchday programme notes of the 2015/16 season...
I’d like to begin by thanking every single one of you for your fantastic support this season.
The club has enjoyed a huge uplift in backing from the City throughout the campaign, both at the Ricoh Arena and all over the country. The increased attendances this year have given me real hope of a great future for this football club because I believe with your support fully behind the club, success is just around the corner.
While there have been a lot of positives this year, the season ultimately hasn’t lived up to the early expectations we set for ourselves. The first-half of the season saw one of the best City sides in a number of years claim top spot in the League and play some devastating football. The early-season wins over Wigan Athletic and Millwall, the 4-1 thumping of Gillingham, the 3-2 comeback win against Peterborough, and the 5-0 win at Crewe – there have been some truly magical moments for us to enjoy this campaign.
Yet, that memory is bitter sweet. As a club – on the pitch and off it – we are in a better place than a year ago, and in ways that aren’t always visible to match going supporters. We are happy about that, but that can only be a starting point. Looking back through the recent history of the football club, we’ve provided several great moments that last for a day, maybe a week, but not yet a season. That is not enough. We have to become a football club that stops providing great ‘moments’ but instead delivers great seasons. In other words: success. The second-half of this season has taught us a hard lesson. It simply hasn’t been good enough. Rest assured that the reasons for the downfall are being looked for by every one of us, they’re being questioned and then answered, so we can be more primed and ready than ever before for the whole of the next season. It will be a long campaign that starts the day after our last game this year.
So it promises to be a busy summer at the football club. For one, there will be a high turnover of players. Our current squad has a number of players out of contract this summer but the recruitment campaign has already started. Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus have already identified targets and are working feverishly to put us in the best possible position to land those targets ahead of other clubs. We are fortunate to be an attractive football club for players to join. There aren’t many other clubs at this level where they would be able to play at a stadium like the Ricoh Arena and be backed by supporters such as ours. I have full confidence in our football management to deliver an improved squad during the summer, which will help us build on the progress made this campaign.
Off the pitch, final preparations are being made to our 2016/17 Season Ticket campaign. You will have seen the announcement earlier in the week that we have teamed up with Ticketmaster to deliver a vastly-improved ticketing service to you. We have recognised the level of service has not been good enough this season so we have decided to team up with the market-leaders to make sure your customer experience is a good one, with ‘print-at-home’ tickets now an option for supporters.
Change from one service provider to another comes with certain logistical challenges and this is why we haven’t gone live with season ticket sales yet. We want to make sure that the service we roll out works and we are hoping to go on sale for the 2016/17 campaign within the next couple of weeks, and disclose full details, including pricing and the Zebra Finance payment plan then. We appreciate that you are eager to get your order in as soon as possible but we want to make sure everything is ready with the new system, website, and call centre before we deliver you the new and improved service.
I want to end by congratulating the Under-21s and the Academy on another fantastic season. The Under-21s have had their best season in the league to date, ending the season with a six-game unbeaten run as we see the emergence of talent in the form of Cian Harries, George Thomas, Ben Stevenson and many others. The Academy should also be applauded after a season which will see five Academy scholars join the first-team squad next season and which brought a great FA Youth Cup run. The Arsenal game at the Ricoh Arena was one of the finest moments of the season for the club and shows us the true value of the Academy.
Having a pathway for local talent to represent their football club is a vital community asset and it is hugely important for connecting the football club with the people of Coventry and Warwickshire. Without the Academy and the Alan Higgs Centre, the likes of Callum Wilson, Cyrus Christie, Gael Bigirimana, and James Maddison wouldn’t have had the opportunity to represent their home city as well as start their football career.
We are aware of some concern amongst our supporters that the lease at the Alan Higgs Centre ends in the summer of 2017. Please know that we are doing everything we can to make sure the Academy continues to have a good home and extend the lease and secure the Academy’s future. I have been in discussions with Coventry Sports Foundation who operate the Alan Higgs Centre and we hope to achieve an extension to that lease before too long.
Finally, I would sincerely like to thank our club doctor, Dr Moss Gold who is leaving the football club after 19 years of service. A football club is built on the people we have and without Moss’ input over the years, I’m sure the club would have been a much poorer place.
After the final game of the season against Oldham Athletic next week, have a great summer, and I look forward to seeing you back at the Ricoh Arena next season.
Thanks for coming,