Now suddenly I look around..and everything looks new. They call it understanding. Life in the Championship…?

8Mar - by Tim - 14 - In Club talk

It seems like only yesterday
I didn’t have a clue
I stood alone not knowing where to turn
Now suddenly I look around
And everything looks new
I don’t know why but I think I’m starting to learn
They call it understanding

Bob Seger – Understanding

The question of just how Cov’s finances might work out next season should the club be  promoted into the Championship was asked on the Messageboard a while back.

It drew some interesting responses and even saw a welcome return from Telly1 who might not be everyone’s favourite poster but who always causes a reaction, which is no bad thing in my book, provided it is done with the best of intentions.

I think everyone expects it to be tough going next season off the pitch as well as on, especially with a larger squad, an increase in player salaries and the resulting expansion of support staff after the introduction of an U18 squad (I think?), together with all the other other costs that go with promotion into the second tier of English rugby.

However, Jon Sharp and the Board seem to have worked diligently these last few seasons to get the club to a place where they are now close to balancing the books and I can’t imagine they would do anything to risk the club regressing back to the dark days of 2008/09.

We know the club has planned for a return to the Championship for some time, both on and off the pitch. And, whilst it was originally a three-year blueprint when Rowland first arrived, in a radio interview with Alec Blackman earlier in the season, JS confirmed that it had been moved forward by a season because of possible rumoured changes to promotion and relegation to/from the Championship.

So it might be that we are 12 months further ahead than expected but all we can do is believe that the club are prepared for the financial implications of playing rugby in the Championship and trust in the same people who have done such a good job by all accounts over the past few seasons.

There won’t be any ‘unknowns’ as far as increases in expenditure are concerned, or at least there shouldn’t be given the time we’ve had to plan, and the business team have worked non-stop this season to develop revenue streams to support the club’s aspirations on the pitch.

For instance,  with games hopefully being televised next season, advertising should increase significantly and Lara Hunter has already managed to capture the interest of IT and hardware giant, Elonex. The erection of a large electronic hoarding/billboard  in the carp park overlooking the main road is likely to bring in anything from £40,000 to £70,000 alone.

It just shows how perseverance and innovation can bring much reward.

That’s seriously big money and shows how ambitious the club is. Through its partnership with Elonex (and the help of the Supporters’ Club) we should also benefit by having a permanent electronic scoreboard as well.

Just one  example, but from speaking to Lara a couple of months ago, there are a number of other areas the club is looking to raise considerably more monies.

So in respect of the financial ramifications of any move into the Championship, well I’m just happy to let those who have done such a sterling job up until now (no pun intended) carry on.

Regardless…

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

And whilst it’s going to be tough for the club, it’s going to be pretty hard on supporters, too. We’ve been really spoiled these last couple of seasons but when we get into the Championship (and surely it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ anymore?), supporting Cov will become far more of a test.

Anyone who has only been a Cov supporter these past two seasons, and who hasn’t watched the club away from home, will only have witnessed Cov lose once in the last 19 months…

…just once.

Such has been the success of this current squad that even if you’ve been to all the away games as well, since 1st January 2017, some 15 months ago, Cov has only lost 4 games out of a total of 37.

We have been truly spoiled.

Now I would count myself as a pretty loyal Cov supporter and not one to sell the club short if I can help it, but that’s not a situation that is going to continue into next season. Far from it in fact – even a successful 2018/19 campaign in the Championship is likely to involve Cov losing as many games as it wins, if not more.

It will be really interesting to see how supporters react to the team losing with somewhat more frequency than perhaps they have been used to of late.

A 7th place finish in Cov’s first year in the Championship would, by any reckoning, be seen as a successful season.

In fact, I go so far as to say it would be a good deal more than that, given that a club finishing in a  similar position this season would probably be ahead of teams of the calibre of Nottingham, Richmond, Hartpury, London Scottish and the already doomed Rotherham Titans.

And as of now, after 17 games (so with just 5 remaining) the team currently in 7th position, Cornish Pirates, has only won 7  league games in total – 5 at home and just two away.

Hartpury, in 10th, have just won 3 at home.

As I said, watching Cov in the Championship could be tough going.

Unless something very unexpected happens, Cov supporters are going to have to be prepared to take a few more knocks along the way than has been the case of late and just how much of an impact that will have on attendances will interesting.

A while back I confidently forecast that Cov gates after Christmas would increase considerably should we still be in contention for promotion. Unfortunately, that just  hasn’t happened and in the last two home games we’ve barely reached the average for the season.

Part of the reason might well be the Six Nations which for many, if not most, remains a big draw – and rightly so.

However, I can’t help but feel that to a certain extent Cov is also a victim of its own success. For a few months now we’ve sat atop of the league and pretty much dominated it, with many supporters outside of Cov, rightly or wrongly, having seen us as champions-elect for weeks now.

A close competition resulting in our being  neck and neck with either DMP or Plymouth, or both, might well have created more interest, or at least not so much interest as a greater desire to watch Cov amongst the stayways. More would importance have been attached to each game, something that perhaps isn’t the case as things have turned out.

A two or three-way run-in and I’m sure gates would have been higher…imagine what the crowd for the home game against DMP  in a month’s time might have been had it been a potential title decider?

More than 1700, that’s for sure.

As it stands, Cov look set to possibly win the title at Plymouth should they stay undefeated over their next three games. A home game would have perhaps brought in a larger crowd. Hopefully, many will want to celebrate Cov’s success in the next home game after Plymouth, against Rosslyn Park, although it’s possible  that Plymouth delay celebrations by a week anyway.

This won’t endear me to some, but I’m with Telly1 on the subject of possible Cov attendances next season. There just hasn’t been the kind of increase this season to suggest that we’ll be bringing in 2800-3000 regularly in the Championship, although that’s not to say it won’t happen.

My worry though is that if Cov lose a couple of early games at home, some of those who have come initially just to see how Cov fare in the Championship might lose heart if the season doesn’t start as well as we all hope it will. 

I disagree with Telly1 when he says that attendance next season won’t be any higher than they are now (which he correctly states are pretty much in line with those we enjoyed when we were last in the Championship) but I don’t think they’ll average much beyond the low to mid 2000s over the course of the season, boosted by travelling supporters from the likes of Bedford and Nottingham.

Just out of interest, the current average gate across all Championship sides this season is 1880…about 100 up on our average for 2017/18 so far.

I also would expect the cost of watching Coventry at home will increase should we win promotion into the Championship – the club froze ticket prices this season but that is unlikely to be the case from September. With a bit of luck, attractive ‘early-bird’ offers will see season ticket sales increase  again next season and entrance on the day won’t go above £20 for non-concessions, both of which would have a positive impact, although any increase is going to deter some.

Gaining promotion would also mean a new sponsor in IPA which presumably means a new kit, too, although that’s an expense that is entirely optional.

If we do have a new shirt for next season, please can we have a looser fit…

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

Fewer leagues games will take some getting used to and with the British and Irish Cup now dropped, it remains to be seen whether its replacement will be sufficient to attract supporters in the numbers Championship clubs will be hoping for. One suggestion is that the RFU will opt for a cup competition that just involves those teams already in the Championship, played initially in three geographical groups each consisting of clubs nearest to one other.

Just how much that will appeal to supporters who might well have to watch the same clubs three of four times during the course of a season remains to be seen, especially if they decide to pack their teams with ‘A’ squad players.

If the RFU and the Premiership’s governing body could come to some agreement, then the inclusion of the 12 Championship clubs in an Anglo-Welsh-style Cup might generate far more interest…

…and a chance for the first Cov v Wasps clash of the modern era.

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

For away supporters, it’s going to be particularly tough next season and not simply because points are going to be much harder to win away from home. Games fall over a 3 day period each Championship weekend, some on a Friday evening, the bulk on a Saturday and some on a Sunday. Travelling on a Friday is going to be difficult for obvious reasons and Sunday rugby might break the routines that have become established for most families over the last 8 seasons.

In the depths of late Autumn and Winter, with there being far more likelihood of Coventry being somewhat less successful on their travels than perhaps most of us have grown used to of late, the patience of many of Cov’s away supporters will be sorely tested, especially with the increased costs involved.

It’s going to take some understanding…

I don’t know why but I think I’m starting to learn
They call it understanding

There’s always the Jersey trip to look forward to…

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Supporting Cov, especially for those who attend games either home or away, is certainly going to be a very different experience to that of the last couple of seasons. For all Coventry’s low points since 2012/13, relegation hasn’t been something we’ve really had to contemplate (although it was back in 2011/2012!)…

That might well change next year, or at least at the start of the season at anyway. None of us will really know what to expect and  unless we recruit very strongly over the next few weeks, 11th place or above will do me just fine next season (presuming there is only one relegation spot!).

Consolidating our place next year in the Championship, whilst continuing to build on the current squad and infrastructures to make further in-roads the following season and beyond, has to be a fairly realistic goal for 2018/19.

But whatever happens next year on the pitch, I would rather us test ourselves against the best the Championship has to offer than spend another season or more winning far more games than we lose and remaining in National One.

Ambition is what drives our club forward and whilst the Championship may well prove to be somewhat of a bumpier ride than we’ve grown used to for the last two seasons, it’s a journey that I’m looking forward to being a part of.

Provided we get into the Championship of course.

Now suddenly I look around
And everything looks new

They call it understanding

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

 Bob Seger – Understanding

I’m gutted I couldn’t find a ‘live’ recording of this, but it such a great song it’s worth including as it is. Without the Silver Bullet here,  it’s nevertheless an impressive ‘power ballad’ that shows of Seger’s raspy, gritty voice.

Not quite Joe Cocker, but raspy and  gritty even so.

Well worth a listen….

 

14 thoughts on “Now suddenly I look around..and everything looks new. They call it understanding. Life in the Championship…?”

  1. Further thought. What’s involved in sponsoring a player ? How about a ( Supporters’ Club) co-operative to do the job ?
    Bill

    1. Hi Bill…will do. I think the Supporters Club are already involved in sponsoring a player or two. They certainly have done in previous seasons…the more suggestions the better though.

  2. Tim, I’d be pleased for you pass on my thoughts about voluntary funding; what possibilities the financial folk might dream up I don’t know but as a retired vicar I spent my life trying to come up with money-making schemes out of necessity !
    Bill

  3. I don’t think this seasons Championship crowds are relevant,The league will be losing Bristol’s high average home gate and reasonable away support and will be gaining London Irish’s which will be probably half that of Bristol. The opposite of that is the loss of Rotherham’s average gate is about half of that of Coventry. I estimate that the net effect will be an average gate for the Championship for next season of about 1500..If the other teams can survive on that then surely Coventry will be able to.

    1. Hi Tom, good to hear from you again – You’re absolutely right, I should have factored that in! My only slight worry is that even with gates 200 plus above the 1500 you quote, we still aren’t breaking even yet on expenditures that will be considerably less than those we accrue in the Championship – hopefully though revenue streams will be greatly increased too…?

  4. Wise words all round. As an out-of-town johnny-come-lately ( although saw my first Coundon Rd game back in the fifties ) is there any way a pensioner of modest means could chip in perhaps a couple of hundred above and beyond match day spending ? Shares, life membership, something, anything ? Improved infrastrucure/ facilities would surely help.
    wmr

    1. Now there is something brilliant, Bill. I live far away from Cov and a season ticket is something I hadn’t considered as I’d only get to a certain amount of home games. Maybe I just go for it and know Cov have my support?
      But other options, wow.
      I now live in Cornwall, struggling to make ends meet as a stay at home dad, but if there were ways I could support my club – even with relatively small funding – I’d very much be interested.

    2. Hi Bill! The answer is I don’t know, but I can’t see the club turning away support of that kind. There’s obviously the match day sponsorship, including that of the ball etc but given Mark’s interest it sounds like there might be others who would be willing to contribute as well. It might be in the club’s interest to create something specifically for Cov ex-pats!. I’m sure my mum who first attended back in 1942 and is now a bit too frail to go regularly would be willing get involved, too. It might well be worth the club pursuing the idea – I’ll forward your comment if you’re okay with that…? Great idea!

  5. I don’t think Coventry should have anything to worry about in the Championship (yes, hopefully) apart from the talent of the other teams on match day. It should be great rugby. The likes of London Irish (sadly), a very well funded Ealing and Championship stalwarts like Bedford & ‘that Yorkshire side’.
    I’m sure Rowland has done most of his recruitment by now and it will be really interesting to see the experienced players he will be bringing in to bolster a great squad from this year. It’s all positive as far as I see it. Here’s to a win on Saturday!

  6. I started the thread and it’s interesting how, on a forum, people want to tell you what you can and can’t ask, what should and shouldn’t be read or said.
    Wow.
    So thank you for tackling the issue here.
    I’m sure those five missing home games will be a hit to coffers, as much as I’m sure Jon Sharpe et al will be doing stuff behind the scenes to bolster finances.
    I wonder the ballpark figure for average spend on matchdays per supporter?
    For example, as well as my £15 entrance and £2.50 and then £3 programme, I’d make sure I’d eat at BPA. Not because of the quality of fare, but simply that I’d want to spend my hard-earned there.
    Similarly, if I was drinking, I’d probably go for 10 pints before, during and after (sometimes more), or would go for three coffees.
    I’d go into the shop a couple of times a season, but once you’ve got the jersey, old style jersey, mug, coat, scarf, beanie etc you run out of options to spend!
    So it’s not just the £15 admission the club will be missing out on.
    And I hate to say it, but the Wasps affect possibly means that some people, who would have been lured to BPA with Championship Rugby once more being played, prefer their Premiership fix across the city.
    So, building attendances may not be as simple as it once would have been.
    Regardless, this has been a great Cov charge and it is with renewed enthusiasm I look forward to next season.

    1. Yes, the MB is a strange beast at times and I know of a good number of folk who are reluctant to post for similar reasons to those you’ve listed – it’s one of the reasons why I decided on a blog. Discussions, when they arise, tend not to get side-tracked or even hijacked on here which is nice.
      I’m not convinced about the lure of Wasps – I reckon a successful Cov in the Championship would attract as many as it would have done prior to Wasps, if not more given the interest in rugby in the city these days. Impossible to prove, of course, but it’s certainly a thought…

      1. I’ve had no real problems on the Messageboard and Russ does a great job in policing it and keeping it going.
        One chap told me what I should have written. And then the chap on the latest thread saying I was trying to start a debate – actually no – and then to give the thread a wide berth – which he didn’t, but told everyone else to.
        I’m so glad I learned to listen to every side of an argument, issue or claim and counter claim.
        I’m so glad I learned to respect someone else’s point of view, even if I disagreed with them, which happened a lot during my career.
        Cov Rugby is my club. I will see it differently to someone who saw the glory years of the 50s, 60s and 70s in action. I will see it differently to people who only have experience of the BPA.
        As a former back, I will see it differently to former forwards. As a former full back/fly half I will see it differently to a 13 or wing. It should be what makes the world go round.
        As for Wasps, I can only comment on what I heard from people who started to watch Ricoh rugby. I’d ask why they didn’t go and support their local team, and it was the big names on show, both from Wasps and visiting teams.
        One day it’ll be Coventry in the driving seat again.
        I hope.
        If I’m allowed to 😉

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