By Harley ThorneOver the next few weeks we will be taking a look at some of the sides that we will be taking on next season in SkyBet League One, today it's the turn of Coventry City.
Name: Coventry City Football Club
Nickname(s): The Sky Blues
Stadium: Ricoh Arena
Distance: 107 miles from Bristol.
Last season: 8th in League One.
Coventry City spent 34 years in the English first tier, but following relegation in 2001, have yet to return.
Perhaps most recently they have been known for their issues off-the-field. It has been reported that the club was 30 minutes away from administration back in December 2007, before Ray Ranson and hedge fund company SISU completed a deal to take over.
Though the club survived by the skin of its teeth, performances on the pitch did not pick up. They were relegated to League One in 2012, for the first time in 48 years. They have been in the division ever since.
Their problems did not stop there. In 2013, SISU placed the club into administration – accepting a 10-point deduction as a result.
The Ricoh Arena, Coventry City’s home ground since the 2005-06 season, was a major cause behind the club’s financial woes. Stadium operator ACL (Arena Coventry Ltd) and the club’s owners, SISU, were embroiled in a high-profile dispute for several years, which eventually led to the club moving all staff and stock out of the venue in March 2013. The dispute was regarding high rental costs, and a lack of access to match day revenue for the club, ACL demanding payment of unpaid rent (rent amounted to £1.2 million per year).
However, the club did survive, yet again. This time, Otium Entertainment Group had a bid accepted by the administrator – and the takeover was finalised shortly after.
This led to The Sky Blues playing their home games at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium, to ensure they could fulfil their fixtures for the 2013-2014 season. They remained there for 13 months, and although the football league accepted a request for Coventry to play there for the next 3 years, ACL and Sisu finally reached an agreement to take the club back to the Ricoh Arena for 2 years in 2014 – including an option to play there for a further two years.
Finances are still tight for the club, and their future still appears uncertain. But on the pitch, as ever, their aim is to return to the second tier. Manager Tony Mowbray last season guided the club to an 8th placed finish, just missing out on the play-offs. They will however face the coming season without their top scorer, Adam Armstrong, who has returned to Newcastle United following his loan spell.
Mowbray, who has managed at West Bromwich Albion, Celtic, Middlesbrough, and Ipswich Town, will no doubt be familiar with the pressures of managing a club of this statute.
It is rumored that the Sky Blues will be stepping up their search for a future home, and the club’s owners will no doubt be hoping that they can return to The Championship over the coming years in preparation for a new era.
In their first full season back at the Ricoh Arena, that stability will no doubt help Mowbray to build upon a solid finish last season, as they look to push towards the top of the table.