Club talk

Exodus (the movement of the people) – part 2

Yeah-yeah-yeah, well!
Uh! Open your eyes and look within:
Are you satisfied (with the life you’re living)? Uh!
We know where we’re going, uh!

Exodus – Bob Marley

Another exodus – but not of players this time.

I’m surprised no one has really made any comment as yet regarding the attendance at the Butts on Saturday, despite the fact that it was such an important game.

A fifth consecutive loss would have drawn Cov even deeper into a relegation battle that the club could ill afford to lose, how ever unlikely that might be. Yet only 851 made it through the turnstiles to watch a spirited Coventry performance.

Those who did make the trip down to the Butts were rewarded with an entertaining game, with two teams that on the day might have been lacking a little in skill but who more than made up for it in commitment.

I was very surprised by the turnout – it’s been a while since we had an attendance figure of under 900, but it is probably indicative of the situation the club presently finds itself in. The attendance was 27% down on this season’s average gate, which is itself down 22% on the 2014/15 average.

I know statistics can be manipulated every which way, but the brutal truth is that the figure of 851 is around 1150 down on our best attendance last season.

We have witnessed a steady decline in the numbers coming to The Butts over the last 15 months and this must be setting alarm bells ringing somewhere in the bowels of the Butts…(probably not the best of images to choose)…

It’s even more worrying really because this has come about in the very week that Coventry have been promoting next season’s membership renewal (which apparently is available to all-comers – and thanks to those of you who kindly contacted me to confirm this – I’m glad it wasn’t just me who was a bit confused by the details).

So, if the attendance at the Cinderford game is anything to go by, then membership renewals certainly aren’t going to be as healthy as the club might have been hoping for…?

I have no idea how much the club relies on season tickets sales to balance the books, but I’d imagine they generate a much needed percentage of the total income. Just how sustainable continued gates of under 900 are is a question that needs to be asked, as must how the club hopes to entice back those supporters who are presently making it fairly clear that Coventry RFC isn’t the place to be on a Saturday afternoon.

With just 10 minutes to go before kick of the main stand was eerily empty. It did fill up in the minutes leading up to the whistle, but there were large areas of seating that were empty, even in the central areas.

Supporters, presumably mostly those who pay at the turnstiles, seem to have been put off by the poor run of  form and maybe the fact that there isn’t a great deal left to play for, given Cov even before yesterday were favourites to avoid the drop. The culmination of the 6 Nations programme throughout the afternoon won’t have helped and nor would City playing at home. But even so…851?

The news about the appointment of Roland Winter to the post of DoR appears to meet the approval of many supporters, judging by the responses on the messageboard, especially after the openness of his comments on the website and in the Coventry Telegraph.

However, to those supporters who might not be regular visitors, then maybe the publication of the list of players retained (and therefore by default the list of those who will not be returning) might have had a negative impact. If only possibly 10 of the current squad is being retained, then what does that say about the quality of rugby presently on show and is it worth £15 when I can go and see the Wasps for the same price a day later?

Or maybe the question was being ask even before last week – you’d be hard pressed to say that Coventry have been an entertaining side to watch this season and that is important to those who aren’t regulars at Cov.

Incidently, Plymouth Albion, whose season has mirrored Coventry’s in that they had a slow start to their campaign but are enjoying a rich vein of form, had a very healthy 1680 to watch their game against Blackheath.

Whatever the reasons, Coventry surely must look to be more proactive as far as promoting the last couple of home games this season is concerned. I don’t know how effective the club felt the ‘Bring a friend for a tenner’ promo was against Esher, but the attendance was around the 1180 mark  which was a significant increase on Saturday’s attendance and was something that perhaps could have been repeated.  (Or something along those lines – every adult who brings a child comes in for a tenner, or ladies come in for a £5 if accompanied by a ‘partner’, fancy dress, a ladies’ day, a free burger, or pint (provided the bar staff are prepared!)…I don’t know, something, anything, to get folk returning).

How about the use of the website/Twitter to promote the game – a daily feature on the Cov website connected in some way to the next game, which could include:

  • updates on injuries (how good would that be?)
  • interviews with players and/or coaches
  • interviews with the odd supporter (and there are plenty of odd ones to choose from…!)
  • something from the fitness coach about how players are preparing for the game
  • a couple of quizzes for kids (the winner gets to lead the team out)
  • quiz for the adults (how many pints of beer were pulled at the last home game etc)
  • articles on the facilities available – food, the shop etc,
  • how the pitch is prepared for a game or what happens on the morning of a home game
  • a video tour of the dressing rooms
  • the promise of a piece of card with ‘TRY’ emblazoned on one side and ‘PENALTY’ to any kids who come to the game with a paying adult
  • a writing competition  for the kids- 200 words on the player I’d most like to meet (and guess what the prize is\?)
  • with over 44oo Twitter followers, tweet a £5 off voucher off the next home game, redeemable by showing at the turnstiles
  • farewells to the players going with opportunities for supporters to say a few words (tweets perhaps that can then be displayed on a dedicated page o the website with a clear link on the homepage – that would be a nice touch) with a proper farewell at the final home game
  • match the expert…competition where a supporter and a player match up against each other to guess that week’s National 1 results (rather like the BBC’s Lawro’s Premier Predictions

…someone with a bit of imagination could come up with something different each day. It might take 30 minutes of time but if your gate goes up by 300 paying members – that’s £4500, less concessions but plus bar and food takings.  You could use the same sort of formula for most games.

Worth a shot, surely?

The website should be where much of this takes place. At the moment, if you want to know what’s happening at the club, you have to rely on John Wilkinson, without whom supporters would know little of what is happening at Cov, or you have to go to the messageboard. There’s a very good self-help service on offer there with supporters sharing what they know or have heard, or just their opinions – all of which are extremely welcome.

Certainly, the website should be something a little more interactive, rather than reactive. The last two home games should actually become the stepping stone to the new season, generating an interest that can be sustained over the close season. Otherwise, come Wharfedale, there will be three or four months of relative inactivity – features on every new player arriving at the club with photos up early would be a great start.

I’m wittering on, I know. But the club does need to do something positive to address what is now an exodus of supporters and not just players…

So we gonna walk, all right! Through de roads of creation,
We the generation (Tell me why!)

(Trod through great tribulation) trod through great tribulation

Exodus – Bob Marley

 

 

8 replies »

  1. yes tim you make a huge amount of positive points. Many of which have been made to many regimes time after time, but they continue to remain in limbo. So many opportunities have been missed since the supporters were galvanised together to save the club and utilise the energy and passion. Its about all Cov supporters not just season ticket holders, both home and away supporters.There are a huge amount of ideas and knowledge which has been wasted and in some cases ostricised…let alone some much time being wasted. For years and years the supporters have been fed BS and exaggeration which in turn provokes so much disappointment. Realism, honesty, preventive measures not reactive
    NO ONE PERSON IS BIGGER THAN THE CLUB….BUT WITHOUT THAT CLUB MANY PEOPLES LIVES ARE INCOMPLETE

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    • Hi Mark – I can’t argue with that other than to say what I’ve seen and heard since the announcement lead me to believe that we have taken on someone who is far more understanding of the complexities of club management beyond what simply happens on the pitch. I think they’ll be some significant changes early on in RW’s tenure that will go down well with supporters, things that have been said before and as you rightly say have been ignored or openly criticised. From the updates we have already and the feedback from those who have met him, this guy gets it – he understands the importance of change. It is easy to be a bit cynical when someone comes in because it’s happened so many times before (I mean supporters, not you!) but RW has already made sweeping changes and there will no doubt be more to come…I’m optimistic, but I’m certainly not going to fall into the trap of getting carried away by the hype as I did last season – and there’s the difference because with RW I don’t think you’ll get that hype at all. He’s pragmatic and a realist…and it’s just what is needed. A reality check…great comment…

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  2. Blimey, Tim, it’s a good job you told me. The Henley game was shown on the fixtures list sent out by the club back at the beginning of the season as this Saturday, 26th, and I’ve been planning around it for some time. So now I’llhave to change my diary commitments and see what I can do. As a matter of interest, when did this change happen, and how come notice of the change wasn’t put out by the club? I’m due to go down with Kimbo and he’s never said that the game is scheduled for a week later.
    As for the marketing/publicity/PR, I have little doubt that there will be some fairly strong views put forward at the Forum which, like the end of the season, can’t happen too soon.

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    • To be fair, I’m not very good with diaries and only plan the next game after the last one, so I’ve been oblivious to any changes that have occurred from the start of the year. But it isn’t good that there has been a change to the dates and you can guarantee you won’t be the only one affected…another own goal really.

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  3. I haven’t responded recently, Tim, not least because we’ve been out in Australia for a few weeks (we got home about an hour ago).
    It seems beyond belief that the simple, logical, fundamental and so very obvious ideas you have listed as marketing/publicity ideas have been so overtly missed by the club. It would be so very much of an understatement to say that the club has missed a trick in this case. The worst thing is, what has Lara Hunter been doing to bring the profile of the club to the attention of Coventrians by the use of such moves? OK, she has been seeking sponsorship for the players, but what have been the moves to connect and engage with the local population to increase crowds and income at each game?
    I’m hoping to get to Henley on Saturday, all things (jet lag being one of them) being equal.

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    • Hi Cliff…welcome back! Before responding…the Henley game is a week on Saturday. I’m hoping to be there, too.
      Things seem to be moving on at pace now and in many ways, whilst there’s still a lot of rugby to be played, I’m getting to the stage now where I’ll be pleased to see the end of the season. It must be really tough on the players and coaches, knowing that they won’t be here for much longer and yet having to show the same commitment and determination as always. News of new players coming in will hardly do much for morale either. But it is as it is and what’s happening is, I believe, for the best. RW seems to be very focused and has proved himself at Cambridge…I’m excited about the changes. They are long overdue and however disappointed we might feel for SM, we need to get behind the new DoR. I don’t know t
      Lara’s remit but there’s definitely little obvious change between what’s happening now and what the situation was like at the start of the season. I do think things will change and change for the better under the new regime. Perhaps that’s one for the Forum, Cliff???

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  4. Tim, you have just got ypourself a job, in one page you have been more creative than a whole season to now from the club and or its ideas.clearly, the bubble still exists and the directors seem not to notice whats happening.

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    • Thanks, Roy…I wish! It just seems like common sense to me but the club have got to be prepared to invest in time and personnel. The appointment of interns to look at the website/media would seem to be a step in the right direction and I wouldn’t mind betting there’s an overhaul of all aspects of communication early on next season. If RW is given more autonomy and is free of other internal pressures, he wouldn’t need the Board to implement the kinds of changes you and I would both like to see. Here’s hoping…

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