Club talk

3G or not 3G – that is the question….or one of them anyway

Following on from a post by Jean H on the messageboard about the commitment and passion evident from Scott Morgan on Saturday…

…I sit near the top of the stand, just to the right of where Scott stands or sits, often with Phil M or one or two other well known faces.

He was very audible yesterday, often shouting out instructions…I’m sure the players wouldn’t be able to make out individual voices from the pitch…would they? He’s always wired up to the bench, so it’s clearly not for their benefit.

One of the things he repeatedly shouted out was for the players to ‘get low’ when they were driving forward phase after phase which makes sense because too often the attacking Cov player was almost upright when receiving the ball which made it far easier for the opposition to stop the drive. A low centre of gravity often means momentum carries the player through, or partially through, the tackle.

He also got frustrated a couple of times when we kicked the ball away needlessly…as did everyone!

But there was no holding back from Scott and he must have been exhausted come the end of the game…whilst the players were physically drained, I’m sure he will have felt the effects emotionally.

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Saturday’s crowd was a respectable 1195, just beating Plymouth’s 1171 and the highest on the day in National 1. ‘Respectable’ because it’s only 35 above the season’s average on the day Coventry were promoting a discounted admission price of £10 for anyone coming along with a member (up to 3 people per member).

I’d like to know whether the club felt the marketing was successful and if they had impacted positively on the attendance on the day. If it was, and a lot of  extra bodies went through the turnstiles as a result of the offer, then that would represent a significant drop in the ‘real’ attendance from the last home game. If it wasn’t, well what does that say about Coventry as one of the city’s sporting attractions, given both Wasps and City weren’t playing at home?

A difficult one really…with the next home fixture not until 19th March, there’s a fair wait until we see if the attendance will hold up without the added incentive.

I would imagine that the club would have to bank on a similar sort of average attendance next year, ie  a fair reduction on what would have been the basis for this year’s spend, so that might have a negative impact on the playing budget assigned for next year…?

Hopefully, increased revenue from the business/corporate side of the club will make up any shortfall on this year’s budget…I guess this is one of the areas will be covered in April’s Fans’ Forum.

Fair play to Mick Shaw for pressing for a Forum though…given that a date has yet to be decided upon, I think it’s fair to conclude it’s something that wouldn’t have come about without Mick’s involvement or the support of the messageboard. And well done, Cov too…it’s not going to be quite such a calm passage for Jon Sharp et al. as it was back in August but he’s fronting up, not that I’d expect anything less from him.

Should be an interesting evening.

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So Broadstreet travel all the way up to Tynedale without a single Coventry player in their match day squad of 22 and against tall he odds win, scoring six tries in the process, and gain an important bonus point. Memories of West Brom’s survival in the Premiership under Brian Robson in 2004? They are still 2nd from bottom and 9 points behind 4th from bottom South Leicester. It’s not impossible for them to survive, but the odds are stacked against them.

Of more significance is the general belief amongst many Cov supporters that the ties with ‘Street are now breaking, if not already broken. Again, this is another topic for the Forum, but there is mounting evidence that this is the case. Coventry are still using Binley Wood as a training ground during the week, but just how long this will continue is unclear.

Comments on the messageboard, or at least a comment, would lead us to believe that there is a divide and that in

…the future, you do your thing – we and our new friends will do ours.

All a bit conspiratorial but it doesn’t take much to guess in the present climate, if AgentB is to be believed and I think he is, just who ‘our new friends’ are and I rather suspect they’ll come offering far more in return for use of the facilities than we ever did.

Coventry seem to be finding themselves more and more isolated and whilst that isn’t necessarily as bad as it might sound, it does mean that there is an increasing need for a training ground or second pitch…and indeed for a second team.

Jon Sharp’s comments about the need for a 3 or 4G (or whatever G we’re up to now) pitch seems to be even more of an attractive proposition in the light of the concerns being expressed over the club’s partnership with Broadstreet.

Many supporters on the messageboard earlier in the season made reference to the number of players who weren’t getting any game time on a weekend, despite apparently being fit…with a limit of 4 players on loan to ‘Street and a squad of 40+, there are always going to be players without a game. It seems increasingly important that Coventry run an Extras/Devlopment side in a competitive league if possible, in order to allow players who aren’t playing in the 1st XV the opportunity to develop their rugby and remain match fit should they be needed to step up into the team. With offers of training pitches few and far between in and around the city, it must be the best option.

Those who travelled to Rosslyn Park will have seen just how effectively a 3G pitch can solve such a problem. Despite the appalling weather, the pitch hosted a game that finished just 80 minutes before the National 1 game was due to commence. The surface obviously suffered no damage, which wouldn’t have been the case on grass and the transition between the end of one game and the start of the next was seamless. As the reserve game finished and the players walked off, Cov filed on to warm up.

Training, the Bears, an Extras side all could be accommodated easily on such a surface and I’m sure it will have been something Eric Richardson will have been very aware of as he watched the game from the sidelines.

Money is going to be the issue and whilst I have no idea myself of the costs involved…Rob Carter very kindly posted a comment the other day that sheds some light on this (thanks Rob):

On the subject of 3G pitches…

The initial cost of a 3G can vary from £600,000 to £1m, but maintenance costs are less than grass and, while the carpet needs replaced within ten years, the bulk of the costs of a new pitch are in the foundations; the carpet itself can cost less than £100,000.” (The Scotsman).

I have also seen costs of about £500,000 at the lower end of the cost spectrum, but as Cov Bears RL are now playing the summer game at the BPA the grass pitch (superbly maintained and looked after I might add) doesn’t get much chance to recuperate. Having a 3G pitch would enable both union and league AND both second teams (Cov Bears are starting a second team this season, hopefully Cov Union will follow) as well as other opportunities for other teams/community coaching/kids rugby parties etc. And of course the kids can get on the pitch at half time all year round!

If, and I have to reinforce the fact that it still is an ‘if’ at the moment, we won’t be working with Broadstreet next season, then maybe an artificial surface is becoming an increasing priority for the Board. Whilst it is expensive, it will generate additional revenue which might make it a far more attractive ptoposition in the long run. If the Butts is to be given an extensive makeover and with the emphasis on more business/corporate opportunities, then I remain in favour as long some of the income that is generated is ploughed back into the rugby side of the business, whilst allowing for some profit for those investing their monies, something that is only right and proper. Hopefully, that won’t have upset anyone this time…

This is a club that has got to move with the times and it is something I do believe we are making headway on. And not just in relation to the facilities in and around the ground, but also for its supporters. We still seem to be lagging behind the likes of Park, Fylde, Plymouth and Henley even, to name but 4, who seem to be much more media savvy and more geared to developing their links through social media with their supporters.

We have the biggest support base in the league and amongst the supporters there must be individuals highly competent in a multitude of skills. Wouldn’t it be worth asking what they could bring to the club -what expertise or time might they be willing to provide in order to develop things further – look at the areas the club needs developing and match people to them and ask for advice or guidance on areas such as IT, media, business, finance, education etc etc.. Make it a club of the city and for the city…(sounds catchy…). Even if such a survey highlighted two or three such supporters, then that could make a significant difference. The club’s best asset is, arguably, its own supporters.

Perhaps we could make more effective use of them?

3 replies »

  1. Peter Readhead via Facebook:

    Have read a lot of comments on both sides of the argument over the weekend. Jury seems to be still out regarding knee injuries, but speaking for myself m y major knee injury happened on a normal pitch. The other main objection was abrasive injures, but again I suffered a few of these on hard dry pitches. Main benefit is that the pitch can be utilised more, gaining additional revenue from the pitch. Love to know others thoughts.

    Such a big topic it needs all the different view point, ie commercial as against permanent injury. Even the RFU are sitting on the sidelines. Saw a game from Scotland last week on a plastic pitch, the rain was horrendous and without the pitch the game would have been called off, but the ball was like a bar of soap and guys were losing their footings, even in the scrum. That said no way would the game have been played on a normal pitch.

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  2. I’m afraid I was the phantom 3G pitch cost commenter! Lol never mind.
    With both the round ball FA and SFA both declaring that these pitches are safe, after a story appeared recently where a father believed his son’s cancer was linked to the rubber crumb used in the pitches. I’m sure more studies and rigorous testing will have to be done by the men in white coats to ensure all players from all levels are kept safe. I am more interested in the possible playing/training injury side to these pitches. I know the movement and speed of football isn’t quite the same as rugby, but last week a Glasgow Rangers player was injured while playing on Kilmarnock’s 3G surface, with the Glasgow club blaming the surface and Kilmarnock denying that the injury was anything to do with the pitch. Also, I follow the mighty Perth St. Johnstone in the SPL, and one of their players (Steven McLean) has suffered two bad knee injuries on Astro-turf (not 3G I know) but his surgeon has specified that he should not play on any 3G pitch – thus not being able to play on the two 3G pitches currently being used by Kilmarnock and Hamilton Accies. I have also read about players saying that you can’t move as well and recovery after games takes longer. Personally I think Cov would benefit greatly from a 3G surface – and I’m sure with the cost involved the Club wouldn’t rush into anything without doing the appropriate due diligence.

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    • The question of injuries is a really important aspect that, as you say, would need to be looked at very carefully, although I can’t believe that several years into these sorts of artificial surfaces hasn’t already produced the required info. Like you, I’m in favour but understand that it will come at a cost – although I’d miss the occasional mudbath…

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