Coventry City’s first win of the 2011-12 EPL campaign, a 2-0 dispatch of Derby earlier today at was played in front of a less than half full Ricoh Arena, a situation at least partially due to a planned fan boycott of the game in protest of SISU Capital’s handling of the Sky Blues. When Saturday Comes’ Ed Wilson provides further background :
City fans have endured the slow fizzling out of a takeover bid led by Coventry supporter and former Northern Rock chairman Gary Hoffman. The bid, which promised much-needed investment in the squad and part-ownership of the stadium, broke down amid undignified accusations and counter-accusations via the local press between Hoffman and the current chairman, Ken Dulieu.
This grisly situation shone a light on the supporters’ principal gripes against the owners: shortage of money for wages and transfer fees, and a lack of transparency over their long-term plans for the club. Although a board member recently issued a statement promising to improve communication, similar assurances have been made in the past to no noticeable effect.
The underfunding of the squad is obvious. Three first-team regulars – Marlon King, Aron Gunnarsson and Keiren Westwood – left over the summer. Only Westwood’s replacement, Joe Murphy, was recruited from outside the club. Elsewhere, youngsters or reserve-team players have been forced to step up. Injuries have reduced manager Andy Thorn’s options further.
The sad thing is, last season ended so well. Thorn confidently guided the team to safety by replacing the long-ball game of motivational sloganeer Aidy Boothroyd with a pass-and-move style that was good to watch and yielded results. Unfortunately, the loss of key players has meant the pass-and-move is still there, but the goals and results haven’t been. Inevitably, some supporters are frustrated by this. It won’t be long before the warm appreciation of neat passing triangles turns into screamed demands that big Clive Platt be dusted down and strategically deployed in the mixer.