Club talk

Shop coming soon – really?

Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody’s got a hungry heart

Bruce Springsteen – Hungry Heart

As supporters, we lay down our money and hopefully play our part in helping to make the club a success both on and off the field.

And in are hearts, we are all hungry for success.

And this season, more than any for a while now, this has been evident with the Supporters’ Club up and running and already beginning to have an influence within the local community as well as the club. The news of a sponsorship deal is exciting and should enable to the SC to grow in ways that we might not have dared hope for when it’s proposed (re)formation was first announced.

And because as supporters we pay our money, that gives us a powerful voice…

More often that not,  it’s a voice that is supportive and encouraging, that gets behind the squad and the management and is vociferous and partisan on match days.

A 1000 supporters, a single voice.

And even when things don’t necessarily go to plan, that voice is still supportive. Critical sometimes, but almost always supportive. Occasionally comments are made that seem to go beyond what is generally deemed to be acceptable, but more often than not they are borne of out of a genuine concern for the club and come from hearts that are passionate and sincere.

A gentle reminder and the equilibrium is restored.

Last season was a difficult one for Cov, made even more difficult because Scott Morgan wasn’t able to turn things round when we desperately wanted him to; he ended up Cov through and through and he hurt every bit as much as we did.

But there was clearly much that was wrong behind the scenes and things had to change. The supporters voiced their concerns, both through the Messageboard and through dwindling attendances. The club acted and supporters felt relieved…

…saddened, but relieved.

This season, most supporters seem encouraged by the way things are developing as far as the team and  management are concerned. Despite some early losses, mostly against the better sides in the league, the supporters have taken positively to the all the recent changes and to Rowland Winter’s handling of them both on and off the field.

And with performances starting to show signs of real improvement, sustained over a number of games now, supporters are firmly behind all that is happening.

One voice…

And they have shown their support through increasing gates…not massive increases but enough to suggest that they will continue to grow as Cov begin to climb the table. And many have embraced the Supporters’ Club, travelling in numbers to away games.

But despite this, I have to say, with a heavy heart, that I can’t help but feel that supporters have been badly let down by the club.

And when I say badly, I mean badly.

I always try to remain positive within the blog, and even when being critical I aim to be so in a supportive way. Indeed, this season I haven’t felt the need to be in any way negative, at least certainly not about anything connected to the playing side of the club.

And what I’m about to write in no way implies any criticism of Rowland Winter, the coaches or the players; far from it in fact and in many respects it merely heightens the progress being made on the pitch as opposed to off it; their willingness to listen and to talk to supporters just serves to contrast the deafening silence apparent elsewhere.

How can it be that a club of Coventry’s size, with aspirations to play in the Championship and beyond, still has no club shop, no replica kit available to its supporters and has made no official statement to explain what the problem is, despite growing unease being expressed on the Messageboard and elsewhere?

It beggars belief really.

The club has made such strides on the pitch, yet little seems to have changed in terms of the way it treats its supporters off it, outside of the management team and the coaches who have gone out of their way to welcome supporters at every opportunity.

In early August we saw the first mock up of the kit and much interest was expressed in it, with supporters keen to purchase replica shirts in readiness for the start of the season. Delays inevitably occurred, as is always the case, and patience was duly asked for by the club and returned by the supporters.

No explanations, no real apology, although the now laughable:

We have a shop coming soon, please bear with us while it’s made ready  

appeared atop of the new website weeks and weeks ago.

‘Made ready’…?

Well, we’ve been bearing with the club for quite a while now. How about them bearing with us now  by just giving us the courtesy of an explanation?

Come on…be serious.

It’s been months.

This Saturday will see game 10…a third of the season gone!

It’s as if that strapline is sufficient to placate everyone, however long it’s left up for. But sadly, that’s not going to be the case any longer, not for me anyway..

I have to say, I feel a bit like the little boy in the Hans Christian Anderson short story, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ – everyone’s knows the problem but no one really wants to speak out. The whole situation appears shambolic  – just whose fault it is isn’t clear and it might not even be the club that is to blame, but even if that is the case, the whole thing could have been handled so much better.

I’m not even sure now whether I’ll buy any kit this season, given that there will be a maximum of only 9 home games left at best.

Only six after Christmas!

And if I do, I’ll certainly want a guarantee from the club that the shirt won’t change next September. I know we have a three year contract with Under Armour, but that could mean three different shirts (six if you count home and away) and I’m certainly not going to fork out £50 on one (pus another for my son, grandchild, neighbours daughter’s boyfriend’s dad etc etc) if it’s  going to be out of date in just 9 matches time.

Okay, I go to away games and so will get a bit more wear out of it, but most supporters who buy replica kit don’t travel.

And had the replica kit been available from September, I would have bought both a home and away shirt, so that’s a loss of income for the club immediately.

And it strikes me that one of the best ways of advertising your club is to have supporters walking around the city centre wearing the latest tops…I’ll always make a comment to the person I’m with if I see a Wasps or Mose shirt on my travels, although admittedly these days its usually a cynical jibe along the lines of ‘Well, I see they’ve got theirs, then’.

If marketing is an issue for the club and attendances are low, what better source of free advertising is there…in fact, we even end up paying for the privilege of advertising on the club’s behalf…?

Crazy.

And yes, the fault might well not lie with the club and perhaps it’s with the supplier that the problem lies.

I totally accept that.

But what I do find so difficult to accept is the complete lack of communication from the club as to what is happening and when it will be remedied.

We had all this last season, when supporters were kept in the dark about so much that was happening with regard to the team, information that this season is made available as soon as is appropriate to do so. Away from the playing side, we just don’t seem to have moved on a great deal at all.

It takes absolutely no effort to update supporters…on the playing side we’re getting one or two updates almost daily, so why nothing from the club about the unavailability of the replica kit…?

Just a quick ‘This is the situation…, this is what we’re currently doing…, it will be sorted by…, we’re really sorry to have…’.

As I said before, it might well be out of the club’s hands (although in nine weeks you’d have hoped the club would have been able to resolve the problem). But to leave everyone in the dark when you’re aware of the frustrations doesn’t actually endear you to your supporters and to some extent begins to undo so much of the good that is being done on the pitch. There’s absolutely no excuse for saying nothing, it’s hardly going to affect the outcome after all.

I’ve bitten my lip up to now, mainly because as a member of the Supporters’ Club Committee, I didn’t want to speak out of turn. However, having resigned my position from the SC, I no longer feel I have to be quite so judicious in what I say and it seems to me if I’m to be honest to myself in this blog, then I should express what I feel, even if it might not be what others think or what the club wants to hear.

It might well be that later today there’ll be a big announcement that kit will be on sale this weekend (or maybe not) but that won’t change the fact this has all been a bit of a PR disaster.

It’s as if the club just hasn’t learned from the experiences of last season, or worse still, they’re not concerned about how supporters feel, because that’s the danger in not saying anything. It just comes across at best as insensitive and at worst as uncaring.

And we do lay down our money and we do have every right to play our part, with an expectation that the club will play theirs. They play  ball on the pitch, but…well you get my drift…

And surely if there is a delay in the shirts, items like scarves, bobble hats, mugs, pens, key rings etc could all be made available in the meantime?

If this had happened last season, then all hell would have broke loose by now. However,  because there’s been so much change and the club is still benefiting very much from the huge goodwill being shown to Rowland Winter and his squad of players, well-earned, too, I might add, there’s been an unwillingness to say anything that might appear to reflect badly on the coaches or players or to rock the boat unnecessarily. We are, after all, still very much in the honeymoon period.

However, the kit and the club shop are not part of Rowland Winter’s remit and I do think it’s about time the club were made a bit more accountable over the lack of replica kit or any club merchandise whatsoever for that matter. Unease is definitely mounting and it was a major topic of conversation at the game two weeks ago and will be again on Saturday.

Supporters won’t be fobbed off with ‘We have a shop coming soon, please bear with us while it’s made ready’ for much longer.

When hearts are hungry, they need feeding.

10 week into the season and no club kit, no club shop.

The supporters deserve some sort of explanation, surely?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to Phil Reynolds for inadvertently giving me a way into this post, one that I’ve ‘ummed and ahed’ about writing for a while now. Phil mentioned ‘Glory Days’ in reference to Cov’s past which I touched upon in the last post – a great choice which one that would have been a far better option than mine.

I was quite late getting into Springsteen; I shared digs at uni, probably around 1980, with a lad who was mad about him and I remember listening to ‘Hungry Heart’ for the first time and being blown way by it…

It’s probably apocryphal but John Lennon is claimed to have said, on the day he was assassinated, that ‘Hungry Heart’ was a great record…

It had a great video, too…

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 replies »

  1. Thanks, Peter. It certainly is beginning to gnaw at me and I’m trying not to blow my lid…but the whole situation is farcical and hardly representative of a club that has such strong aspirations of playing in a higher tier. The fact that there is no word from the club is the worst thing of all – semaphore and thought transference are exactly right. Very disappointing and before long its a subject that will begin to dominate discussions on the Forum and elsewhere when it should be hat’s happening on the field that is most important.
    Poor from Cov. Very poor indeed.

    Like

  2. Tim, thankyou for putting all our feelings so eloquently regarding the problems over the replica kit. This seems to be the problem when you tie up with the big kit suppliers, as minnows we are bottom of the feeding trough and they place their priorities at higher levels. Remember the actual players kit arrived late, so no wonder the replica kit is so far down the year. The arrogance then will be added to by it only being available on line and not available to see, select and collect on match day, or any other day of the working week!
    It’s the lack of transparency as you rightly state that remains in part of the club, the playing side and news is refreshing, but actual news on mundane items such as replica kit seem still to be in the dark ages with communication by semaphore or thought transference.
    Christmas is approaching fast and many of us know will be looking at alternative sources for presents to our dear ones and ourselves.

    Like

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