Club talk

If ever there’s a right time, Moseley and what the paper says…

With the names of the players who will be staying on next season now known, together with those who are still in talks with the club, we fans can now turn our thoughts to who might be replacing those players who are moving on come the end of the season.

I’m not sure I really understand why it is felt in some quarters that speculation as to who may, or may not, be coming is inappropriate whilst players are still with us. Surely, if Coventry players are in the process of negotiating contracts with other clubs whilst still playing National 1 games for us, there is little harm in spectators speculating who we might be seeing at the Butts in September and if ever there’s a right time, it just around now.

It is after all what fans across all spectator sports tend to do and to deny otherwise seems to fail to understand the psyche of the ‘typical’ fan. Indeed, one of my favourite websites is BBC’s own football GOSSIP site (just how much are West Brom going to sell Berinho for this summer, and to whom?). If it’s good enough for the Beeb, then it’s good enough for Cov’s supporters.

Almost every conversation I had at Henley on Saturday soon or later turned to rumour and speculation: ‘Have you heard?’, ‘Is it true?’, ‘What do you think about X, Y and Z coming next season?’

It’s the anticipation that makes it such an enjoyable pastime.

Will we even recognise the names of any of the players coming here next season? Given that I don’t know much about what is happening in the leagues either above or below National 1, if I recognise a name, then the player has to be pretty damned good.

If I don’t, then it’s a quick search on t’internet to see if there’s any info on him. Basically,  if he is coming from the Championship or above, then he must be class and if he’s from National 2 or below, then he must have massive potential. Either way, he’s going to be a bit tasty – why would be sign him otherwise?

I always believe a player coming into the squad is going to set the Butts alight…(no pun intended)

I have to admit, though, that since the announcement of the coaches , I have been a little nervy about Coventry’s ability to attract players of the calibre we’ll need in order to build a squad to challenge for honours in the next 12 months. I think this might be a specious argument following this weekend’s trip to Henley, but nevertheless here’s my reasoning.

I’m presuming there’s a finite budget for recruitment, out of which the coaches and players salaries will have to be paid. Four full-time coaches is going to be a substantial investment and my thinking is that if you take the salaries of those 4 full-time coaches out of the pot, then there’s probably going to be less left for the recruitment of players. The logic is impeccable, but it might well be based on a couple of false premises – namely, that the total pot available is the same as that for this current season and that the wage structure next season is also the same as for this one.

However, it might well be that players coming into the club aren’t being offered quite as much in terms of salaries as those players going out…hence, to coin a phrase, the club gets more bang for it’s buck.

Further, it might well be that there are indeed two different pots, one for the coaches/managerial team (which would have to be bigger than in previous seasons given the full-time nature of the four posts already announced and numbers of additional part-time jobs that are still to be filled) and another pot for the players.

If this is the case, then there’s no need to worry – until I begin to ponder on the substantial reduction revenue from gate receipts this year.

But, this in turn might well be off-set by the increasing returns the club is receiving from all the corporate/business activities it has been promoting:

‘We now have a thriving business generating twice the revenues it did in 2011.’

These are just the internal meanderings of a troubled mind. Find the negative and then search for the positive.

No eternal sunshine here, though.

Not until I’ve seen the list of players we’ve signed anyway.

Because this is a personal blog, I can reveal with some equanimity my thought process, something I couldn’t readily do elsewhere. And the there is a happy ending to all this…

It would seem that none other than Jon Sharp has entered into the arena and provided a bit speculative ammunition with the suggestion that we’re actively pursuing the services of George Tresidder. The belief following the trip to Henley that we all might ‘be setting are sights a little low’ only stokes the fire somewhat.

Now that’s the sort of gossip  I love…what an earth can it mean? Doesn’t it just set your mind racing into overdrive…?

Fantastic…why on earth should that be seen as a negative? Three weeks or so to wait. That seems a long time off.

But at least there are games every week from here on in now so there’ll be plenty to keep us occupied.

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So who’s going to be joining National 1 from the Championship next season?

It’s looking pretty grim now for Moseley (or Birmingham Moseley as they are soon to be known!) who are still rooted to the bottom of the Championship. With only two more games to go, Moseley find themselves 4 points adrift of Ealing and, with a far inferior goal difference, it’s effectively 5.

Moseley’s final two games are Bristol (away) and London Scottish (home). With Bristol riding high at the top of the table, Moseley are unlikely to take anything away from their visit to Ashton Gate. However, a home fixture against 9th placed Scottish could offer a lifeline,  although an Ealing win and a Moseley loss next week could mean that Moseley are already relegated by then.

11 Ealing Trailfinders 20 4 15 10 28
12 Moseley 20 4 16 8 24

Ealing have yet to play Jersey and Rotherham, both at home. Rotherham, one place above Ealing, offer them their best chance of a win although, provided Moseley lose both games, Ealing can survive without gaining a single point more. An Ealing win next week and it’s game over for Mose.

I would be more concerned from a Coventry perspective were Ealing Trailfinders to be relegated. On the two occasions in the last 3 years that they’ve come down to National 1, they’ve bounced back up and, with plenty of financial backing, it is likely that they would be able to retain a full-time squad.

However, Moseley in National 1 would be something of an unknown. The remark coming out of the club recently that the funding streams for a National 1 side is just 5-10% of that of a Championship side suggests that they might struggle to maintain their Championship squad. Whilst wishing no misfortune to Moseley, if that were the case then it would provide more of a level playing field for the rest of National 1. Plymouth’s current plight, however desperate it might be, has meant that Richmond have probably benefited as a result. It’s all about winners and losers.

However, there is another reason why I’d welcome Moseley back into the National 1 fold.

The return of a truly local derby would be eagerly anticipated by those supporters who remember some of the previous encounters of yesteryear. The home game at the Butts would generate the largest gate in National 1 not just on that particular day but for the whole of the season. For some, the result of the game would almost define how successful the season is…fixtures between the two clubs are that important to some supporters.

The rivalry used to be intense when, once upon a time, Coventry and Moseley were the two top clubs in the country. But that was almost two generations ago and perhaps the significance of having Moseley back in the same league as us won’t mean quite so much to the majority of supporters now. If I’m still blogging next season, then the build up for first encounter between the two sides will be well be worth a read!

Another by-product of Moseley’s relegation to National 1 might be that Coventry will get a better pick of the local Premiership Academy players. Moseley would not be able to offer a level of rugby above that of Coventry and so would cease to be such an attractive proposition to Premiership clubs looking for clubs to bring on their junior players.

However, if Moseley do pull off something akin to a great escape, then I wish them well. They will have deserved to retain their position in the Championship. If relegation is the end result of another difficult season on the pitch, then above all else I hope they can remain financially viable as a club and avert the problems that Plymouth Albion are now facing. Last season Moseley avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth and must have been preparing for this scenario for some time, so hopefully everything is in place to ensure that by dropping a division the club don’t suddenly find themselves in financial turmoil.

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I see from this week’s The Rugby Paper that Ampthill have just signed Brett Sturgess, the Exeter prop, as player-coach.

Ampthill have a very strong and effective pack already and the addition of Sturgess is certainly going to send out a clear message of intent to other National 1 sides. At 34, he’ll still have another couple of seasons or so in him and together with Viliami Ma’asi and Leke Lutui, Ampthill are going to have real forward power next season.

They have surprised many in National 1 this season through a succession of good results and now lie in 4th place. Sturgess’ appointment is only going to strengthen next season’s  squad.

However, in the same edition, there is a piece by John Wilkinson announcing Rowland Winter’s appointment and the names of the four new player coaches under the headline, ‘Coventry recruit 5 coaches in bid for promotion’. I’m not sure quite how other National 1 supporters will see that, especially given the early season expectations. However, like the Ampthill piece, there is a clear intention to improve on this season’s performances and, of the two, Coventry’s appointments seems to offer a stronger case than Ampthill’s.

By making the announcement as early as they have, the  Coventry Board as shown how eager it is to address not only this season’s problems, but also build the foundations for a concerted push for promotion over the next couple of seasons or so.

 

 

4 replies »

    • Thanks, Paul…some interesting times ahead! Plenty to discuss…it will all take a bit of getting used to but as the news start to come out I can feel myself starting to get excited, against my better judgement…

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  1. I share your puzzlement Tim as to why speculation regarding players should be deemed inappropriate at this time. I rarely comment on the unofficial site any more as it has tended to become a bit of a ‘closed shop’ of late.
    It’s funny, I’ve been going on for some time about how I would be quite content just to be back in the championship and recommencing battle with the likes of Moseley and Bedford – ironic then that the Moseley ties may soon be happening again for all the wrong reasons. It’s a bit of a masochistic wish really as I have to confess I found some of the Moseley supporters annoying at best and I may soon tire of the endless ‘Mooooosley’ chants and strange looks if we dared to shout for Cov – even at home.
    Ah well, at least it should add a bit of spice to the fixture list…

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    • That Mooooooseley thing used to do my head in – I was talking about that only the other day with Sam. I remember as a very young lad going to The Reddings and seeing many of the supporters drinking from hipflasks – it was a whole different culture down there then. There will still be enough of us who remember the good old bad old days to create a bit of atmosphere – if Moseley do joins us, then that’s the first fixture I’ll be looking out for when they’re released!!!!

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