Meeting with Joy Seppala & Dave Boddy - Thursday 27th February 2020

mark82

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Following the statement issued on behalf of this forum in January by Pete Griffiths (@Sky Blue Pete), myself and Pete met with both Joy Seppala and Dave Boddy on Thursday 27th February.

We started by sharing some background information on why forum members collectively felt the need to issue the statement, such as the perception that the local press and the Sky Blues Trust did not seem to share the same viewpoint as the forum (and, indeed, much of the wider fan base) with regards to the reason for the reason the club are playing home games in Birmingham. Pete explained some of the actions already taken, both before and after the issue of the statement, such as appearances on local radio shows and meeting with other involved parties. Both Joy and Dave seemed to be aware of much of this already and commented that they had been following with interest.

We followed this up with some general discussion about the club and football in general. It was clear from the conversation that Joy does follow our games and has a genuine interest in the club. She talked passionately about players and staff, both past and present, and shared her belief that the club should be in the Premier League. She can see clearly that the club is a big part of the community, and that Mark Robins and the players put a lot of time and effort into community work and events. Year on year more work is put into the community side of the club, to a greater extent than many clubs do in the modern era, and this is something the club are committed to continuing even as we progress up the leagues.

We then moved onto a list of discussion points that myself & Pete had agreed on prior to the meeting.

Current Performance of the CCFC group – both on & off the pitch.

Like most fans, both Joy & Dave are very happy with the performances on the pitch in league one this year. Neither were surprised that the club were doing so well on the pitch this year as they have total belief in Mark Robins, the players and the recruitment team (Chris Badlan & Stuart Benthom). They feel that recruitment has been excellent since Mark Robins reappointment in 2017.

Joy & Dave both feel the team would be competitive in the Championship next year if we are promoted. They are under no illusions that it would be difficult, but we’ve competed well with Birmingham twice this year as well as Rotherham on Tuesday. Success would naturally be relative to the improved level and avoiding relegation would be considered a successful season. They commented on the teams who went up last year and how difficult it has been for them. Because we cannot compete financially with a lot of the teams in the Championship at the current time, we have to compete by being smart with recruitment, using the academy to bring young players through and maximise opportunities on player sales. Work has been put in by the recruitment department on all scenarios for next season, including being promoted to the Championship, with recruitment lists ready to go with signings within the budget irrespective of whether we are in Birmingham or Coventry (although everyone at the club & Sisu wants to be playing in Coventry).

Up to March last year CCFC were self-sufficient. Due to the better than expected crowds at St. Andrews we are doing slightly better than projected, although would still have had a deficit. With the money from the sale of Sam McCallum we should be ok, but Sisu are supportive and have agreed to underwrite any losses if necessary. If we are promoted to the Championship, CCFC would be well within the regulations within the Championship for losses allowed over a 3-year period. All financial decisions taken have been with the long-term best interests of the club at heart.

Regarding McCallum, Dave said the club would have liked to hold onto him a little longer, but pressure from the player’s agent made it very difficult to keep him on a permanent basis. After discussions with Mark Robins and looking at what they thought Sam’s potential value would be if he remained at the club and we were promoted to the Championship, the decision was taken that the move to Norwich offered good value.

We also spoke briefly about how well the James Maddison transfer has worked out for the club in the long run. Money is still coming in for James, and they have recently invoiced Norwich for some money that has become due. This is all part of the financial model for CCFC to compete, grow & succeed. Eventually we want to become the club that is receiving the big fee for our players directly.

Relationship with Wasps RFC

During their opening remarks, Joy and Dave said that they were unable to discuss any matters with regard to the possibility of a stadium deal to return to the Ricoh Arena, due to the fact that Coventry City Football Club, SISU and all Wasps Holdings companies have signed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) prior to the discussions that commenced in April of last year. All parties are still bound by that agreement.

When asked about how long the EU complaint would take, Joy confirmed that it normally takes around 12 months for the EU to decide whether to take the case forward to review. 12 months has now passed since the complaint was filed in February 2019, however, nothing can yet be read into there not being a decision communicated at the end of the 12-month period as this is just a rough guide. Joy felt that if the case moved to review it wouldn’t necessarily be a long process if the case did move to full review. Joy also confirmed that it wasn’t possible to withdraw the complaint, as if the EU decide there is possible state aid, they would still have an obligation to pursue this. There’s no indication yet as to what effect the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will have on this case and whether it will have an impact on the EU’s decision to pursue.

Pete explained how he had been told by individuals in the media that the club were unhappy about his public questions regarding the current challenges (including the indemnity). The club have confirmed that this is categorically not the case, and that to the contrary they thought it had been useful. They acknowledged that the statement issued by Sky Blues Talk had been balanced and sought to hold all parties to account.

Pete also advised he had spoken to Nick Eastwood at Wasps, who didn’t think Joy would entertain talks with fans (by our presence this is clearly not the case). Pete had agreed with Nick that if Joy was willing to meet with him and Derek Richardson then they would also be willing to talk, and their door was always open. Dave confirmed they continue to have active dialogue with Wasps. Joy advised that throughout past talks it had been difficult to get to speak to Derek Richardson, who is the decision maker at Wasps, and that in the past he hadn’t been present at meetings as expected. Joy and Dave were both happy for Pete to go back to Nick Eastwood to see if talks can be arranged with Derek directly.

............
 

mark82

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Stadium Plans – Short & Long Term

Dave & Joy both seemed hopeful that a deal could be reached with Wasps for us to play at the Ricoh Arena next year, whether promoted or not. Bringing the club back to Coventry remains a priority, and he believes it is also important to Wasps to have the added revenue from CCFC being there.

We questioned whether the quality of the pitch at the Ricoh Arena would form part of those negotiations, as it was acknowledged by all parties that the improved playing surface at St. Andrew’s had contributed to the quality of football on offer this year. Dave confirmed that the pitch would form part of the negotiations and would be high up the priority list.

Owning our stadium, and associated revenue streams, remains the longer-term goal. For this reason, the aim is to look to agree a sustainable deal to allow us to play at the Ricoh Arena for 5 years whilst work is ongoing. If a deal cannot be reached with Wasps to play at the Ricoh Arena, then we do have agreement from the EFL to remain at Birmingham for a further 2 seasons beyond this season. Naturally they would like to start selling season tickets from March, but they cannot do this until we know where we will be playing.

As previously communicated, the search for stadium sites is ongoing and has been narrowed down to a shortlist of 6 sites. A further site has also recently been identified. Although all sites are suitable for a stadium, the new site is considered the ideal location. As the exact location of the sites is commercially sensitive, they couldn’t tell us where the sites were, however, it was confirmed that all sites on the shortlist have been approved by the EFL for their proximity to St Mary’s Guildhall in Coventry, which is a marker point for the EFL.

Joy confirmed she can see the potential in the fan base for bigger crowds. Both Joy & Dave thought that crowds would have been in the region of 15 – 18k for some of the bigger games this season (such as Rotherham & Sunderland) at the Ricoh Arena. For this reason, when looking at sites and designs for Stadiums they have this figure in mind as a minimum. The potential new stadium would possibly be a 4-sided design rather than a bowl (similar to the design of Shrewsbury’s new stadium) as this allowed greater scope for future expansion. Current thinking is that new stadium would be 18-20k, expandable to somewhere in the region of 30k.

Development of Relationship with Fans

Dave advised that regular supporters forum meetings were still held which included representatives from 15 different supporters’ groups including the London supporters’ group, Leamington & Warwick Supporters group and the Sky Blues Trust, amongst others. Dave advised there is a place for Sky Blues Talk on that forum and has invited Pete to take that place. The supporters’ forum has met twice this season, and another meeting is due soon. The group is chaired by Colin Henderson of the London supporters’ group. Dave advised he’d written to local media outlet’s requesting they use Colin as the point of contact as a fans voice, but they so far haven’t done so.

We spoke briefly about their relationship with the Sky Blues Trust. Dave advised they don’t give them any preferential treatment over any other fan group, as they consider them one of many and confirmed they are part of the supporters’ forum. They consider the trust as quite militant in their approach, and this was evident at a recent supporters’ forum meeting where they seemed to be pulling in the opposite direction to all other groups. They don’t consider the trust as representative of the whole of the fan base, and question the number of ‘active’ members they have. They do see there are some members of the Trust board who do want to do the right thing, and if there was a change in leadership and direction at the Trust they could play a key part at what is a really important time for CCFC, giving the fans a voice, raising the profile of the club and helping get the club back to Coventry.

CCFC Season Ticket Fund

Mark gave figures to Joy and Dave of the amount of money raised last season for the CCFC Season Ticket Fund Charity arranged by Simon Miller (@Mild-Mannered Janitor), which had helped buy over 150 season tickets for fans who were unable to do so, either through individual nominations or via local charities. Joy & Dave were taken back by the amount raised and the generosity of fans.

Mark thanked Dave & Joy (and all at the club) for their help and support with this last year, including matching tickets bought by the fund one-for-one with tickets purchased by the club which contributed greatly to the success.

Mark confirmed that plans are in place for the same fundraising to be run this year with some funds held over from last year to contribute to this. The club again agreed they will match tickets purchased through the fund on a one-for-one basis. On top of this Dave offered to put us in touch with David Busst and Sky Blues in the Community, as they may be able to assist with identifying worthy causes.

Dave also asked Mark to send over figures & details to him and Mark Hornby who will look to compile a story on last year’s efforts to put on the club’s official website.

Joy commented she’s proud the to be associated with such a wonderful cause, it’s football at its best within the community – seeking to support others who need it. Joy & Dave advised they have received comments and letters from recipients on how important it has been for them – it really does make a difference to people.
 

Nick

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Fair play Pete and Mark!

Interesting that Wasps seemed to underestimate you Pete.

Also interesting that people in the media had tried to claim the club didn't want the indemnity talked about to try and get people to stop mentioning it.

Have probably disagreed with you both about a lot of things but I don't think anybody can disagree with the points you have made and things you have done.

 

Liquid Gold

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Pete explained how he had been told by individuals in the media that the club were unhappy about his public questions regarding the current challenges (including the indemnity). The club have confirmed that this is categorically not the case, and that to the contrary they thought it had been useful. They acknowledged that the statement issued by Sky Blues Talk had been balanced and sought to hold all parties to account.

Pete also advised he had spoken to Nick Eastwood at Wasps, who didn’t think Joy would entertain talks with fans (by our presence this is clearly not the case).

 

mark82

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Are you going to take them up on their offer of going to the club meetings, Pete?
I'll answer for Pete as I think he's stuck in meetings. Yes, we'll have a representative from here at the meetings going forward. Will probably be Pete or myself (more likely Pete as he's better located) initially but open to others taking over in the future.
 

shepardo01

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Brilliant! - Well done guys! Great info in there.

No surprise about the "Trust" and the reluctance of the local media to use a balanced group as a fans voice.
Highlights (for those that want to read it and see it as it is,) just some of the background barriers that the club has - Trust/Local media/Nick Eastwood

really enjoyed reading that - but be prepared for the mob on twitter to be saying that you are on SISU's payroll and along with Nick and Les Reid!

Again, well done and thank you for bringing info such as this to light.
 

Liquid Gold

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I'll answer for Pete as I think he's stuck in meetings. Yes, we'll have a representative from here at the meetings going forward. Will probably be Pete or myself (more likely Pete as he's better located) initially but open to others taking over in the future.
Can we get that moderated sub forum so details of these meetings are put on there and it is moderated so people like me don't use it as an excuse for an argument.
 

CovInEssex

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Kind of off topic but just curious, @Nick have you ever been offered anything to sway conversation on this forum/post positively? Don't have to say who, but just yes or no?
 

Nick

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Can we get that moderated sub forum so details of these meetings are put on there and it is moderated so people like me don't use it as an excuse for an argument.
Yep, I have just sent both Pete and Mark a message. I am also more than happy for them to moderate it for comments and others that they both judge to be "level headed and balanced" ::)
 
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Nick

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Kind of off topic but just curious, @Nick have you ever been offered anything to sway conversation on this forum/post positively? Don't have to say who, but just yes or no?
No have never had anything like "If you make us look good we will give you x and Y". I don't think Pete or Mark are the types to be swayed by that type of shite either though.

I have had some threats when people didn't like things in posts but that's one for a different thread.
 
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mr_monkey

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Fantastic work guys, I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say how much I appreciate your effort and hard work

One quick question... Are you going to send this transcript to the telegraph, observer and cwr directly? We need to get as many people to read it as possible
 

clint van damme

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you kept that quiet you pair! Great work.
Hopefully they can meet with Richardson and get the 5 year deal they're after for the club. Still not exactly a secure long term future but a big improvement on the current carry on.
 

jim20

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That’s great work and a great meeting, everything seems a lot more positive than a few years ago, well done to all involved
 
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clint van damme

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That’s great work and a great meeting, everything seems a lot more positive than a few years ago, well done to all involved
I'm still hugely sceptical about the new ground talk. To the point I don't really even entertain it. If I'm proven wrong and they build one I'll be delighted.
Until then I just want the focus to be on getting back to the Ricoh, (even though I can't abide the place).
 

oldfiver

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Guys can you help me please?

I'm looking for the 'Richardson Refuses to Talk' headline in the Telegraph but for some reason my browser can't find it. I've cleared cookies and everything.
talk about what and roughly when?
 

SkyBlueDom26

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I'm still hugely sceptical about the new ground talk. To the point I don't really even entertain it. If I'm proven wrong and they build one I'll be delighted.
Until then I just want the focus to be on getting back to the Ricoh, (even though I can't abide the place).
Hopefully they will 'walk the walk'
 

shmmeee

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Not much new news really. Did you ask for a likely timescale on the stadium? They’ve had six years is there anything to indicate the next six will be any different? I swear we were “down to three sites” years ago and now it’s up to six. Any ideas on how it’ll be funded or who will own it? What happened to it last time with the fans forum and everything?

Did you ask about why they won’t request the case is forgotten even if it’s pointless? Did you ask about future legal cases or appeals? Any more details on the indemnity?

Fair play for getting a meeting but seems a bit of a wasted opportunity to just turn up and say “yes yes everything’s lovely aren’t the team doing well” and not actually ask them any questions. Seems just like what many on here slate the Trust for doing with the other actors. Turn up, round of applause, no further forward.