Monday, 12 August 2013

My letter to Greg Clarke and the Football League today

Dear Mr Clarke,

I am writing to you today to clarify comments that you gave to the Guardian newspaper in regards to Coventry City Football Clubs ‘temporary’ move to Northampton.

In an interview with the paper, you are attributed with the following quotes when talking about building a new ground;

I don't know, they haven't told me whether they will or not. Everybody is posturing to get a deal, people say things to create impressions. Unreasonable things are happening. We have no power over the stadium owners or the club to tell them how to run their businesses. At some point there will have to be a compromise.
"I can understand why the Coventry fans are outraged. If I was a fan I would be incandescent. But what would have happened if we had refused them permission to share grounds and they could not afford to play”
However, in my meeting at the Football League which was held on July 10th, your colleague Peter Hannon told us that the Football League was told of plans for a new stadium to be built.

It is also a well-known fact, and a fact that was repeated during our meeting, that a million pound bond was required of Coventry City Football Club to assure that they had plans to move back to the Coventry area.

However, in this same Guardian article, it says that you do not know whether they will build a new ground at all.

Could you please clarify these comments in relation to the bond? Under what terms was the bond agreed, if it is as you say, and you are not aware of plans to move back to the Coventry area? Has the million pound already been ring fenced for the bond, or would it need to be paid in the event that the club relocated outside what is known as the Coventry area?

Could you also clarify under what terms the ground share at Northampton was agreed – are you, or is the Football League as an organisation, aware of any formal plans to move back to the Coventry area?

If there have been no plans presented to you outlining the plans for the club, then I question the reasons for allowing the ground share to go ahead. Although the club were attempting to fulfil their fixtures, they also have an obligation to the fans to allow them to know where the future of their club lies.

Under your own rules, point 13.8 says “The Club must disclose, as soon as practicable, plans and details of any proposed future move to a new stadium.

When can the fans expect to be made aware of these plans? What time frame would the Football League believe to be acceptable?

I am personally disappointed with the position that the Football League has taken in relation to Coventry City Football Club. The real casualty of this whole situation is the fans who are being torn apart by the fighting on both sides. I do not believe that your organisation does enough to intervene in these cases. Much of what has happened could have been prevented had you have stepped in and made more robust calls for mediation, or if as an organisation you had accepted my invitation for a public meeting where representatives of the football league could have addressed fans concerns. Fans have been forgotten in this mess and have had to watch as their club is pulled apart.

In the 125th year of the Football League, this is just another example of your organisation letting down football fans.