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Club News

PUSB: 'From The Board' versus Sunderland

27 February 2023

Club News

PUSB: 'From The Board' versus Sunderland

27 February 2023

After each matchday programme this season, we publish the regular column from the Coventry City board on our website. You can read Coventry City Chief Executive Dave Boddy's column from our game against Sunderland below:

Good afternoon and welcome to the Coventry Building Society Arena for today’s game against Sunderland.

I would also like to welcome the players, staff, officials and supporters who join us from Sunderland today. In particular, I would like to welcome two former Sky Blues; Tony Mowbray and Mark Venus. Mark played a key role in bringing me to the Football Club six years ago and we have kept in touch regularly since he left the Sky Blues. I will always be grateful to Mark for him giving me the opportunity to come to this great Football Club.

Just before our last home game, the Football Club released a reminder regarding standing in the stadium. This followed our series of several meetings between us and the Arena team and the safety authorities, which includes the local council, Sports Ground Safety Authority and emergency services.

This opened up some debate regarding standing in the stadium, the cleanliness of the Arena and also the sales of tickets in certain areas of the stadium. This is a very complex issue, but hopefully I can shed some light on some aspects.

The stadium is an all-seater stadium, though we clearly know that not all supporters sit during games. However we have a responsibility for the safety of everyone in the stadium and to the safety authorities to seek to enforce this all-seater status and the law, whether through stewarding or communication to fans.

A number of supporters highlighted concerns about the cleanliness of the Arena and particularly seats which, to put it politely, have been affected by the toilet habits of birds. Cleaning of the stadium is the responsibility of the Arena but this is a key issue. While it is something we do monitor generally, ahead of our last fixture we undertook an extensive walkaround of the bowl to check on cleaning issues, including these seats and litter etc. We have shared photos/locations with the stadium and their staff and I can re-assure fans that this is something we will be monitoring and following up.

It was also questioned why we do not currently sell all seats in the Singers Corner. This is a decision we made as a result of a meeting we had last May with the safety authorities, namely the City Council and Sports Ground Safety Authority. In that meeting, issues were raised with us and the Arena about overcrowding in that area, persistent standing and also under age drinking and drug use.

As alluded to in our statement earlier this month, potential capacity restrictions or the closure of Singers Corner was mentioned. The safety authorities were in agreement with our approach to instead suspend match ticket sales here and also reduce the number of supporters in this area, while also having an increased stewarding presence in that area - which is at a cost to us. While we appreciate a number of fans are not happy with the steps we’ve had to take, the alternative presented to us was not something we would want to entertain.

Over my years at the Club we have built an excellent working relationship with the Arena operations staff and the Safety Advisory Groups, which allows us to reach sensible and workable solutions together.

There is talk of safe standing amongst our supporters and this is something which has been touched on in discussions with the Arena last pre-season - including the logistics around the stadium bowl, the suitability of particular areas, the impact on sightlines, the types of safe standing in use elsewhere and of course the cost. Obviously there has been a change in owner of the Arena and also ourselves over the last few months, however it is clearly a topic that remains relevant in football and we will continue to look at.

Thank you as always for your support, enjoy the game. PUSB

Dave

Dave Boddy
Chief Executive, Coventry City


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