The Christmas and New Year period is a time for reflection and looking ahead.
I have been at the club since February, and in my role as Chief Executive since June.
I set out at the start of the season that two of my immediate aims were to secure the club’s short-term future with a home for next season and also the base of the Academy.
I had hoped to be able to make an announcement before Christmas about where we will be playing next season, but such matters are always complex, and we haven’t quite managed to achieve the target I set. However, I am delighted to say that we will be in a position to make an announcement imminently.
In regard to the Academy, I am happy to inform you that we are in advanced discussions for a long term agreement for the Academy to remain at the Alan Higgs Centre. This new deal will provide certainty to the operation of the Academy, which has been a hugely successful part of the club over the last few years, and its players and future players.
A huge amount of credit must go to Academy Manager Richard Stevens for his part in helping us to conclude this deal, and our thanks to Paul Breed of Coventry Sports Foundation for his work on this too.
When I joined at the back end of last season, a clear highlight for us all was the Checkatrade Trophy Final. To see 43,000 Sky Blues fans at Wembley was an incredible experience for everyone, and to win was fantastic.
That was a good end to what was a very disappointing season. Since then, Mark Robins has set about rebuilding the squad and we now have a team which is very capable of pushing for promotion out of this league. On a personal note, I have enjoyed working with Mark since my appointment as Chief Executive and look forward to continuing to support him and his team in their aims this season and beyond.
We have made progress off the field in terms of the establishment of a new Supporter Forum. The main supporter groups have all been contacted to invite them to the first meeting in January, and there will also be roles for elected fan representatives. Any fan will be able to put themselves forward for these positions, and other supporters will be able to vote for their representative. This process will be announced in the New Year.
We are looking at further commercial and event opportunities in the New Year too. We are developing our relationships with local businesses and business groups, as well as with our existing commercial partners. We have been proud to work alongside a variety of local groups and businesses in the campaign for Coventry to be City of Culture in 2021, and we look forward to helping make the year a success now that we know the title is coming to Coventry.
Many fans will have attended the Evening with Mark Robins in the Summer and the Evening with Kevin Keegan more recently, both of which were huge successes. We will be announcing details in the New Year of our next ‘Evening with’ event, which will be held at the Ricoh Arena. As said in a previous programme column, we hope to hold further events like this at the stadium and continue to build a positive relationship between the football club and the Arena.
The Mark Robins event also saw the launch of the kit for this season, which has proven to be hugely popular with supporters. We have already looked at designs for the home and away kit next season, and hope they will be just as sought after by supporters.
That brings me on to my final topic – you, the supporters. I mentioned earlier the huge attendance at Wembley, but that figure was not in isolation. Up and down the country, I have been impressed by the commitment and dedication shown by supporters – even outnumbering home fans on occasion! Even our long upcoming trip to Carlisle has seen around 500 tickets sold so far.
At home, when the Ricoh crowd is behind the team it makes a huge difference to the players. With upcoming home games against Chesterfield and Stoke City, there is a fantastic opportunity to generate momentum going into the second half of season.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Coventry City Football Club