Manager Mark Robins has said that he is ‘deeply disappointed’ for fans who had hoped to watch his side play at the Ricoh Arena, but issued a rallying call for Sky Blues fans to get behind the team while they groundshare in Birmingham.
Following Friday’s announcement of a groundshare at St Andrew’s, Robins said that the confirmation gives clarity for the Club to move forward, and that he had received assurances from the Owners of the Football Club that they have the willingness and capability to develop the Club’s own stadium.
“I would like to say first and foremost, I am deeply disappointed for our supporters who had hoped, quite rightly, that we would be playing our home games at the Stadium that was built for Coventry City to play in,” Robins said.
“Secondly, it is a complete and utter disgrace that the Ricoh Arena, which again, was built as the home of Coventry City Football Club, is owned by a Rugby Club that has its roots in Buckinghamshire. How can that happen?
“Coventry is ‘City of Sport’ in 2019 – this is an absolute joke.”
When asked about the situation and if anything more could have been done, the Sky Blues Manager urged fans to look to the future.
“The ultimately unsuccessful talks regarding the renegotiation of the contract to stay at the Ricoh are now at an end and we now have to focus on our future. What has changed? Well, we will be leaving a stadium that we didn't own and moving to a stadium that we don't own, with a football pitch to play on.
“It is in Birmingham, 20 minutes out of the City, at a Championship ground and our closest available ground. I would prefer to have a different set of circumstances, but we have what we have. This situation is historical and has to be, and now will be rectified.
“I would like to thank Birmingham City Football Club for their support in helping us to make sure we fulfil our fixtures and exist. Our first priority was to keep the Club going and we have done that.”
The Manager said that the way forward for the Club is for everyone involved to keep working hard, and to get its own stadium as soon as is possible, and made clear his commitment to the Sky Blues.
“The only way forward is for the staff, players and I, to keep working hard to keep improving the team to be competitive on the pitch, playing a good brand of football. I will continue to do this.
“Ultimately we have got to return to the Coventry area with our own stadium as soon as possible. Having our own stadium will give us our own income streams and allow us to move forward sustainably.
“This was an issue for the club before SISU came in, and without a stadium of our own it would not be sustainable for any owner of a football club.
“I asked a direct question of the Owner if they were capable and willing to develop and finance the Club’s own stadium, and I received a direct and positive answer, which I can support and work towards.
“From the bottom of my heart, and when you have had the chance to digest the information that has been disclosed and feelings have been reasoned sensibly, I am asking you, all our supporters, to continue to follow us. Supporters are our heartbeat.
“This Football club has a special place in my heart. There have been some great days, development and performances over the past two and a half years, and the two days at Wembley will always be two of the greatest days of my life as a Manager. I am committed to creating many more great days.
Robins is able to draw upon past experience of difficult circumstances at a Club, having previously been Manager of Rotherham United.
“I was Manager of Rotherham United in 2008 when a similar scenario occurred when they had to leave their Millmoor ground and play their home games in Sheffield, added into that mix was a 17-point deduction and they had no training ground. The Rotherham fans followed and the result is they now have their own ground which belongs to them, helping them to be competitive in the Championship/League 1.”
Five players have been brought in for next season already and the busy Summer of recruitment will continue for Robins, who says that the certainty the Club has for next season will now help in that process.
“It’s been a busy Summer so far. We have players lined up and wanting to sign. Now everyone knows where we stand, let’s get on with it."
Robins’ final message for supporters was a rallying cry of defiance in the face of adversity, and encouragement.
“I’m going to put together a team better than last year.
“I know this is a difficult situation for supporters, but I want to see a good following. I want people to come and to support the team. I want people to show what Coventry City is about in adversity.
“This situation has been forced on us, but let’s come through this.
“With the backing of Coventry City fans, we can do it. It can be done and will be done. We are a strong football club with a great heritage and we need to show it.”