Club talk

Fylde (under ‘P’ for perceptions)…

New Coventry Rugby Brand Logo Master with strapline NEW May 16As a supporter,  in the days leading up to a game I always find it interesting to pop across to the opposition’s website to take a gander at how they view their forthcoming encounter against Cov.

Sometimes the way we perceive ourselves is very different from the way other clubs in our league perceive us.

Earlier in the week Telly1’s post regarding Coventry’s financial situation, while seemingly well wide of the mark, did bring home to those not in the know the fact that Cov continues to be on a financial precipice and reliant on the deep pockets of its Chairman and Board (who deserve far more recognition, and thanks, than perhaps they generally receive).

Unable to read with any understanding the most basic of profit and loss accounts, I was grateful to those who were able to so simply explain what the realities of the current financial situation are – not great, by any means, but by the sound of it slightly better than 12 months ago.

However, that’s not quite how other clubs see us.

Fylde, for instance view us as having…:

a fine stadium, a host of blue chip sponsors, a big city base and ambitions to get back to the RFU Championship as soon as possible. These ambitions have been given expression in a major development phase which began earlier in 2016.

An aggressive business strategy led by Chairman Jon Sharp is based on the utilisation of their Butts Park Arena assets and the development of various commercial opportunities in the city, including reaching a ground sharing deal to bring Coventry City FC to the Arena.

It paints a somewhat different picture; hardly one involving any sort of financial constraints.

If only it were as rosy as that.

And it’s not hard why visiting clubs, aware of local media reports and of speculation from around the National 1 circuit, might reach such a conclusion.

 

perceptions

Old lady or young woman? How we see ourselves might not be quite how others perceive us.

The perception is amongst many clubs is that we are in a far healthier position financially than perhaps in reality we are.

Although in reality we might be, given their own financial situations!

It’s all a question of perceptions.

However, the fact that other clubs see us as ambitious and forward thinking  is probably indicative of just how much they would like to be in our shoes…

…sometimes there is a tendency for us to be our own worst critics.

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On the playing front, Fylde are extremely positive about Coventry’s ability to move improve on their current results:

 

 

It will always be tough to build a squad substantially from scratch and get it playing in harmony immediately. There is little doubt, however, that the form of the squad will improve, given its talent and experience, and that the club will climb the table from their current 10th place, one behind Fylde.

I’ve read many a review of a  game which include phrases suggesting ‘it’s a game that  the club should win’, or that the opposition are ‘going to find it hard going this season’…not so here. Okay, Fylde don’t want to write anything of that nature only to damn themselves if (when!) they come away with a loss, but this is a view shared by everyone we’ve played so far…
early days, all the pieces will come together, Coventry are going to be a force in this league.
Sometimes the only ones who doubt us are ourselves.
And it was good to be reminded that despite comments recently that the squad we’ve assembled doesn’t look to be a ‘Championship team in the making’, others see it as squad full of talent and experience.:
Roland Winter’s new coaches have an enormous amount of top level playing experience even if more limited time on the coaching front
Two opposing sides of the same coin, I guess.
And whilst the fact that Fylde’s side:
shows a number of changes due to injury or unavailability
I’m certainly not going to read too much into that, given Esher said much the same before they played us last weekend and we all know how that game ended.
Whilst I remain confident about Coventry’s prospects this afternoon and I’ve gone for a 5 point win in the Predictor League, there is just a slight nagging feeling that it wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve contrived to lose to teams that at home we should be beating if we are to become a side capable of a top three or four finish.
On Tuesday, the team’s training session looked extremely focused and as the players came out from the changing rooms and before Rob Norman called them all together, there was plenty of  laughter and smiling faces as they went through some exercises and passed the ball around amongst themselves…the mood of the camp was certainly positive as far as I could tell.
The arrival of the three Wasps Academy players for a few weeks is an interesting move. I did expect a little more reaction on the Messageboard to the news, but once again this week has been quiet for the most part, other than Telly1’s offering and the subsequent responses.
Phil Reynold’s comment at the end of yesterday’s post on here probably summed up best how to view this latest link with Wasps…
…against Hartpury we played arguable some of our best rugby of the season so far, especially defensively, but we were ultimately undone by a couple of moments of magic from a young scrum half on loan from Gloucester, a youngster who might have looked a boy amongst men, but one that played like a man amongst boys…
And actually, to have seen young Harry Randall put in such a mature performance was a real pleasure, however masochistic that might sound. The irony was, the following week he was called back to Gloucester…if only it had been the week before.
Maybe it’s out turn this week to benefit from links to a premiership team and if we are able to profit from having Wasps just up the road, then I’m all in favour.
Maybe one of the ways of getting spectators back into the ground is by working together in such partnerships…?
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If you are going to the game today, please have a think about who YOUR  ‘Man of the Match’ would be – I thought I’d trial a blog readers’ poll just to see whether the supporters, at least those who read the blog, are in agreement with the sponsors’ choice as announced at the end of the game.
I have to say, usually I don’t and I’m just interested to find out whether that’s a me thing or whether the sponsors do tend to see things differently.
Whether it becomes a regular ‘feature’ will depend on how many get involved in the vote.
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As always:
If you can’t get to the game but want to know what’s happening other than just updates of the scores, please let me know and I’ll be happy to tweet a ‘commentary’, although sometimes you have to decipher the tweets when the predictive text or my fat fingers get in the way.

I’m on @Cowshedtim.

If you aren’t familiar with Twitter or don’t have an account, then on the homepage of this blog (www.coventryrfc.me), all the tweets will appear in real time on the far right of the page, towards the top end.

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Over the course of this week the numbers reading the blog seem to have gone up considerably, in fact by something like 20% above the previous highest total and with the two busiest days still to come.
Just in the five days of this alone, well over 1000 different viewers ( many more views!) have logged on to read at least one post, and this will have risen substantially by the end of Sunday…in effect, getting on for twice the number attending the last home gate.
I’ve no idea for the reasons behind the increase, especially at a time when results haven’t been going our way and when numbers tend to drop a bit. It might have something to do with the improved information coming out of the club these days and the resulting interest it creates. It might also be the result of a renewed interest in Cov following the arrival of Rowland Winter and the subsequent rebuilding of the team and rebranding of the club.
Or maybe it’s Wasps’ fans coming across to see  how their three players on loan to us are being received…and if that is the case it shows just how important that partnership could be for us.
What is clear is that Coventry has a significant following and there is a real thirst for information about what is happening in and around the Butts, both from local supporters and from those further afield (since it inception 15 months ago, the blog has been read in 98 different countries).
Whatever the reason, a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to pop over and have a read. And feel free to add a comment…a discussion between readers would be great!
Above all though,  please do please come back!
Up the Cov!
Tim

Categories:Club talk

12 replies »

  1. After reading Telly1’s last comment (18/10) I take back what I said about there being an element of common sense to what he says…completely out of order with regard to RW and the coaches…should think Boris might have like to have a chat with him on that front…

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  2. First of all, Tim, an acknowledgement of your interesting blog. Well done! Your passion for Cov is visible here for all to see. If such a regular well written column strays occasionally into repetition and introspection then it’s hardly surprising. That is the prerogative of the blogger, unlike me who writes on behalf of the Club and must be more circumspect in my comments.

    I didn’t take any exception to your original blog and its reference to the Fylde preview. Indeed, we’re delighted if followers of other clubs read our pieces. I was simply trying to point out that our various clubs are so different that it’s difficult to generalise about any of them. That is, apart from the desire to win and watch good attractive rugby.

    Thanks also, to Paul for his comments about Fylde. Sorry that your last sojourn to the area was rather a dead loss. One tip for Cov and other supporters visiting the area. Unless you particularly want the rather tawdry but jolly highlights of Blackpool, there are many very nice hotels & B&Bs in Lytham and St Annes, no more than a mile or two from the Woodlands. I also hate National League clubs being labelled by the RFU and others as ‘community’ rather than ‘professional’ and treated like, with due respect to them, level 8 or 9 clubs. We are the vital bridge between amateur and professional rugby and should be acknowledged as such.

    Sadly, I can’t make the game today but I hope its entertaining and that Fylde can at least compete with Cov, rather more than we’ve done in our other two away games this season.

    Best wishes to everyone at the Arena.

    Allan

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  3. All power to the author of the Fylde review replying to your article Tim and yes all clubs in the League have their own ” business models” to finance their club. I still find it difficult to square the circle with our two Educationally Backed clubs in the league and how their “Business model” can function on such a low fan base.

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  4. Tim – you mention several possible reasons for increased readership. One I think you left out is : ‘It’s a damn fine blog!’ Keep it up.

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    • Hi Richard…that’s very kind of you and I really appreciate it!

      I just tend to tip tap away on the keyboard, without stopping to think who might be reading it, so a comment such at yours is always really welcome.

      I guess this might sound selfish, I am my own audience when I post (which is why I sometimes get it so wrong…as in yesterday)…it’s a hobby to keep me occupied now I’m retired; the fact that others will read it is a constant surprise really.

      Hoping for a Cov win today,

      Kind regards,

      Tim

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  5. Allan, thanks for replying to Tim’s blog. I am sure he will respond himself, when he can tear himself away from sampling the delights of the local Turkish restaurant! Nice to hear that Fylde continue to endure as , what the RFU delightfully , and rather quaintly, refer to as the ‘ community game’. For a long time I , and many others, have loved the Fylde approach to the playing style, and long may it continue.
    Last year wasn’t a happy time for me and my son at Fylde. Delays on the journey up, stuffed on the pitch itself, going to my Blackpool hotel to find we had been moved to another hotel, then, the much promised trip for my son up The Tower postponed due to high winds. Not the best 36 hours all told!
    I hope you can appreciate, whilst I hope you have a super day today at the BPA, it doesn’t extend to a Fylde win.
    If you are coming then please, you and your fellow Fylde supporters, come to the Coventry Supporters Club area in the Arena bar for a chat and a welcome.
    Enjoy your day.

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    • Hi Paul..thanks for getting back to Allan. Having reread what I wrote, I can see what he means. It was clumsy really… ‘The perception is amongst many clubs is that we are in a far healthier position financially than perhaps in reality we are’ is more about what supporters from elsewhere seem to sometimes express, not the clubs themselves. Fair play to him though…and to you! Thanks.

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  6. I wrote the Fylde preview Tim. Thanks for referring to it. On the matter of the business position of Cov, please note that I, from a considerable distance away, didn’t say there weren’t risks associated with the Club’s strategy. I would guess that there are considerable risks in such an ambitious plan. But without ambition and risk taking there can be little serious advance. So I wish the Club all the very best (apart from today & 4th Feb!) in achieving our goal of promotion to the Championship.

    Also, don’t think necessarily that the comments in the preview suggests that we (or others) would like to be ‘in your shoes’. The extraordinary thing about N1 is the very different ‘business models’, philosophies and organisational arrangements found amongst the clubs.

    Fylde is a members club with a holistic ethos – from 1st team squad to Under 7s – all within the same club structure. We have no ‘board’ (just an elected committee), no private money behind us, just a number of local sponsors and advertisers, and premises we use to generate funds to invest in rugby. Every penny we spend on the Mini-Juniors is one we can’t spend on the 1st team players budget, and vice versa. It’s very hard work to manage this and stay competitive in N1 against a number of clubs who choose to spend far greater money on players. And sometimes we falter.

    A few of us have debated whether we would have the cajones to turn away a potential sugar daddy who wanted to invest in the club. ‘Investment’ means control as well as finance. This would change the club irrevocably. As I see it, the Club’s ambition is to retain its traditional character, provide ample opportunities at senior and junior levels to play our great game, continue to compete in N1 and remain a major influence in our seaside community. That’s why I admire Richmond’s approach so much. It’s not for everyone, and I doubt it’s for Cov either.

    Ultimately, I hope, we all find our own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Allan…many thanks for taking the time out to respond, particularly on a match day.

      I certainly didn’t mean to imply a criticism at all of what you’d written, so apologies if it came across that way. If you’ve read the posts prior to this, you’ll be aware that Fylde is a club I have always admired and would be the club I’d choose follow in National 1 outside of Cov. The reverse in many ways; I wish some Cov supporters would be as positive!

      I do think we miss out considerably by not having a junior section, although local clubs provide excellent opportunities in and around the Cov area, but we do have a thriving community outreach programme that works very well.

      There’s a lot to be said for being masters of our own destiny and no one wants to sell their soul, but it’s hard to see how club’s in National 1 are going to survive in the long term without a ‘sugar daddy’ of some sort. One of the problems with Cov, and this is purely personal viewpoint, is we stuck too closely to the traditional approaches of the 70s and 80s and failed to move into the professional era whilst clubs all around us embraced it, but I guess that’s a completely different story.

      I hope Fylde have a successful season and continue with the form you’ve shown ver the last few weeks, with perhaps a slight blip today…once again, I can only apologise if what I said was seen as a criticism, it wasn’t meant that way and certainly represents my views alone and not those of the club!!!!

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      • Hi Tim, Further to Telly 1 post recently, Clearly the current finances are ok on paper, like you, I am not experienced with balance sheets, however having read the clubs recent abbreviated accounts, I seems to me and others I have chatted to, that our clubs foundations are simply,” built on sand”. ie if the funders decide to pull out or walk away or simply get “donor fatigue” the we will be in a mess. These accounts only show that it is a highly debateable lease valuation that puts us into the black, as it were. With retirement age upon some of the board and also constant stress brought on by team performance and fans criticism , a sunbed in mid February might be more appealing that getting an earful from all and sundry at the Butts.

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      • Yep…couldn’t agree more.

        ‘Donor fatigue’ (great phrase) could be an issue and if that is the case we could well be somewhere deep up the creek with not form of propulsion whatsoever. We can’t rely on blank cheque books and yes, I think I’d be put off by some of the criticisms levelled at some of the Board. The ‘sunbed in February option’ might well come to pass (for a few supporters, too – myself included!); there are no bottomless pockets for sure. In fairness to the club, there seems to be a definite move to build up the links with local businesses and sponsors which can only be a good thing. Whilst Telly 1 has a really unfortunate (and I guess deliberate) way of winding supporters up, sometimes there’s often an element of common sense in what he says. A more reasoned approach from him, articulated in a way that won’t create anger and angst, wouldn’t worry me at all because it opens up a discussion which is no bad thing…his initial comment, though provocative, generated some really interesting posts…
        What you’ve said is a worry…we can’t keep relying on the Chairman/Board to bale us out and balance the books when necessary BUT, and here’s where we might differ, I do trust the club and those currently in charge of its business side. to move us forward…nothing so far has persuaded me otherwise. I genuinely believe they have the best interests of the club at heart…but I am incredible naïve at times and have no experience of a world outside of education.
        Great comment, Roy…certainly got me thinking…

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