Tue. Apr 13th, 2021
“I left my heart in BPA”…

If you live outside of the Coventry area, as I do, then it is sometimes difficult to access much information about Coventry RFC. There are a couple of sources on which  I tend to rely heavily, those being the Unofficial Coventry Rugby  and the Coventry Evening Telegraph websites. The latter has articles on Cov a couple of times a week, written mostly by the venerable John Wilkinson,  more often than not either previewing or reviewing a game with additional articles about any major news stories coming from the club (eg signings, sponsorship etc).

On match days, Twitter and Rolling-maul can be useful sources of information, but they aren’t always reliable, dependent on whether there is someone at the game willing to tweet or text, if a reliable signal is available etc.  On occasions, there are updates on Coventry local radio, but that means having to tune in for the afternoon and as I’m not a City fan…Coventry also have a Facebook page, but Fb isn’t something I particular log on to for anything other than to check up what my kids are doing!.

I know Jon Sharp has said that the club are looking at ways of providing Wi-Fi access around the ground which is great, but that in itself is not the answer as presumably although it will allow supporters to text and tweet scores, it doesn’t address the key issue of the club taking responsibility for providing this information itself.

I know this frustration has been addressed by several others in recent weeks and is, understandably, the particular bugbear of Kimbo, one of the real Coventry faithful. I do think the club is well behind some of its rivals here; supporters shouldn’t have to scan the internet in hope of coming across the latest news update. Further, the real problem for me is the official website itself. It just doesn’t seem ‘supporter’ friendly. I appreciate totally that in order to survive,  Cov have to develop their corporate activities; more money coming in, better players, bigger crowds, better facilities, more money coming in etc etc. But another key way of attracting supporters through the turnstiles is by communicating effectively with them on an individual basis, by welcoming them to every aspect of club life. Cov do this well on match days, very well indeed, but not well enough through the media. The club just doesn’t appear media savvy. A quick look at Broadstreet’s homepage shows they are…erm…streets….ahead of Cov as far as its website is concerned and for every one tweet I receive from Cov, I probably get 4 from ‘Street.

As a supporter, someone who travels into Coventry to the games and therefore isn’t privy to club information other than what I can find trawling the internet, what would I want from the website…? Well, in no particular order:

Player information and photos;

  • Match day news and previews;
  • Images/gallery  from last match;
  • Brief clips from videos of  tries or key moments of a game;
  • A weekly diary of what’s been happening at the club;
  • Interesting statistics at a glance eg attendances;
  • League table on home screen;
  • RSS feed from the team we play in the next week;
  • Links to  the Unofficial Coventry Rugby site for rugby chat etc.;
  • The season’s programmes, archived so it’s possible to check on programme notes, team selections etc.

Now some of these are probably already there  but if they are, then they’re not always easy to access; some definitely aren’t. Over two-thirds of the homepage is given over to attracting corporate income. There is little to draw in a supporter as opposed to a corporate sponsor, looking for the above. It could be argued that the present website is ‘user’ friendly, but I certainly don’t feel it’s ‘supporter’ friendly. Now I’m not  a techie, geeky, Bill Gatesy (whoops…thanks, Maxee!)sort of person, and I would have no idea how to address the problems that seem evident to me, but it should be possible to seek the views of those who use the messageboard regularly (as well as those involved in its development DR for starters) to get feedback from those who are most likely to use a new look Coventry website. What would they most like to see included, what would make it more user friendly…seems sensible to me?

I’m over 5000 miles away at the moment, overlooking San Francisco Bay. In the distance I can see Alcatraz. It’s the day after the day after match day and I feel as ‘trapped’ as Al Capone, Robert Stroud or George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly every would have done…OK, maybe that’s stretching the metaphor a little but just an update of something  on the club website would be great, that’s all I want. It doesn’t go down well with those you’re holidaying with when you’re constantly attached to a phone or tablet, scanning the ether for the latest from Cov.

Ok, it’s a selfish moan  and a little tongue-in-cheek at that, but I know from many of the supporters I’ve spoken to in the past feel that the website is a source of frustration. An overhaul costs money, but I do think it would be money well spent.

At the moment most fans use the messageboard in preference to the website for club news.  That can’t be right?

The messageboard should be a forum for discussion by supporters about all things Cov, yes…but not as a second-hand mouthpiece for club news. I’m sure this will have upset some and it’s really not intended to. The point I’m trying to make is that I very seldom use the official Coventry website for news about the club when really it should be my first port of call.

By Tim

8 thought on “The Covman of Alcatraz….”
  1. That all seems very fair to me, Cliff…Dave won’t receive your reply so I’ll let him know. Good luck with the email…please ask if there’s anything I can do to help…


  2. Hi Tim

    I think I’ll send another email to the lady at the club to let her know that:-
    – informed comments and observations are still being made
    – I’m prepared to facilitate the areas of improvement which have been discussed
    – I’ll offer to put a sticky on the unoffy site to generate a round up of comments and observations
    – I’ll prepare a resume of the comments with a view to submitting them to her
    and see what response I get.

    You’ll appreciate that the last thing I want to do is to antagonise her and to set her back up in respect of her (the club’s) attitude to, and respect for, the supporters. So perhaps I’ll ask her if she would appreciate any help I can offer, as per the above.

    I don’t know whether this reply will automatically go to Dave who, I think, should be aware of my intentions following his offer to put a sticky on the unoffy board. Perhaps you’d be good enough to see that he is made aware, please?

  3. Tim, I am open to helping to move the club forward, and will gladly make a topic on said improvements a sticky. Over to you Cliff…

  4. Hi Cliff…I’m 8 hours behind you, so apologies for not getting back a little sooner.
    It is disappointing that 12 months on the situation is much the same; I think Jon Sharp would be concerned to see your comments as he seemed focused on making changes to the website at the Forum last month.
    I have no problems with anything from the blog being used for whatever purpose as long as I know, after all, I’ve put it out for general viewing. However, I do now doubt that anyone from the club would take note of this blog or an individual’s comments given your experiences.
    Another way of doing it is to ask Dave to put a Sticky on the messageboard expressing your concerns and then urge everyone to endorse your thoughts with just a name, or add a further comment…like a petition…and then direct the club to that…it would carry more weight. Just a thought…

    Dave might not feel he wants the board to be used in that way, though…

    The @Coventryrfc Twitter feed won’t even retweet the blog address, despite a couple of requests, even though it’s very supportive of everything happening at Cov at the moment on and off the pitch…so don’t hold your breath!

    And thank you for taking the trouble to comment; it really is very much appreciated…

  5. Your blogs are, for me, making excellent reading and I very much appreciate your efforts.
    As far as the club’s official website is concerned, you may be interested to know that 12 months ago I emailed Jon Sharp about the subject and he put me in touch with a lady who had just been recruited from Moseley and, among the responsibilities she’d been given, was the website. There had been a thread on the unoffy site which highlighted the shortcomings (inadequacies, even) of the site and I took the responsibility to draw these to Jon’s attention.
    I then contacted the lady who was most personable, polite, respectful, etc, and accepted that the points I was making were effectively a round up of the observations, not criticisms, made by people who had visited the site.
    I felt that it would be wrong of me to maintain contact and to therefore give the impression of keeping up any pressure so I have done nothing further until only three weeks ago when the observations made by Kimbo, in particular, encouraged me to send another email. I have to say that I’m disappointed at having received no acknowledgement of my email, let alone a response.
    The points you make are each extremely valid and should give plenty of food for thought, but something would seem to be preventing the pursuit of the creation of a better website and of the use of social media. I can only assume that it is, as you say, that there are greater priorities and a more urgent need for the (albeit limited) funds to be allocated to something which is considered to be more important. If that is the avid pursuit of promotion, it is something which must be applauded, but, again as you say, so much could be achieved towards the club’s aims if it were so much more media savvy.
    Just a thought…..would there be any mileage in (and indeed would you support) the presentation to the club of the list of items in your blog?

  6. Lol…David Gates! What a plonker…kind of sliced and toasted all in one go there!
    Very fair point about the ‘watered down, official line…’ although it should be this that generates discussions on the forum

  7. All fair – I use the unofficial site 99 times out of 100 compared to the club’s own site. That said, I also use unofficial media more often when looking at the other teams I follow. Perhaps you get to a certain level of fanaticism where the watered down, official line doesn’t stimulate interest enough anyway?

    I do think taking control of social media, being more innovative with communication and setting the agenda one’s selves with the press is a must for a club with ambition. I was critical last year of the “Preview… Match Report… Repeat” philosophy. Particularly, as you say, in attracting new support.

    I am, however, not sure where 1970’s country music singer David Gates fits in?! Perhaps Bill would be more helpful 🙂

Any thoughts:

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