Response to Article on Coventry Observer website concerning Butts Park Arena and CCFC fans' protest

Last updated : 19 January 2017 By TJHW

An article appeared on the Coventry Observer website last night under the headline: EXCLUSIVE: Coventry City still 'hopeful' of Butts groundshare as Cov rugby rule out dealing with Sisu amid 'damaging' campaign”. Penned by Les Reid, the article seemingly implies that protests by Sky Blues supporters have directly contributed to the decision by Coventry Rugby Football Club to rule out Butts Park Arena as a home for Coventry City.


The piece contains the following quote, ascribed to an unnamed source at Coventry City Football Club:


“Following recent local media anti-owner campaigns, the club is concerned that continued protests and campaigning aimed at damaging the club’s owners will instead cause longer term damage to the football club.”


While I would normally ignore Mr Reid’s output, a more respected local news organisation (not the Coventry Telegraph, in case you are wondering) has made a direct request for my views on the above quote. As has previously been the case with Mr Reid’s work on the subject of CCFC and its relationship with supporters, there is a lack of balance. Reid makes reference to anti-Sisu campaigning being driven by fans’ group leaders, yet it is apparent that no reply was included or sought from fans’ representatives in respect of the criticism.


The article refers to questions raised with Mr Jon Sharp, CRFC Chairman, regarding the decision to end discussions on a ground-share. Mr Sharp is clear that the Board of the Rugby Club “cannot deal with Sisu given the anti-Sisu sentiment in the City” but there is no reference in his answers to fans’ protests as a contributory factor.


As a shrewd and informed business man, Mr Sharp will be well aware that Sisu and CCFC Chairman Tim Fisher have a history of strained or broken relationships with other organisations in Coventry. It is doubtful that he and his Board needed demonstrations by fans’ to tell them that they should be wary of dealing with Sisu.


The condemnation of protests for being potentially harmful to our football club is ironic, when it presumably originates from people responsible for so much actual damage already done. The purpose of the anti-Sisu campaign is to persuade Sisu to “Sell Up and Go” before the results of their failed stewardship become terminal for the Sky Blues.


Rather than facilitating attacks on supporters for exercising their right as consumers to voice complaint about the terrible state of the club, perhaps the Coventry Observer could demand answers from CCFC Directors regarding some of the immediate crises that face the Club:

  • The probable loss of the much-prized Academy in June of this year;
  • Breakdown of discussions with Wasps over extended playing arrangements at the Ricoh after May 2018;
  • The lack of strength and depth in the playing squad that has left the team rock-bottom of League One, with relegation to League Two a frighteningly real possibility.


Or perhaps Mr Reid wishes to lay blame for these issues with campaigners as well?


In the meantime, the Sit In previously announced to take place after the Fleetwood game on Saturday will go ahead as planned. We invite all supporters to join us for about 15 minutes in a lawful and responsible demonstration to demand that Sisu Sell Up and Go. Once that objective is achieved, there will be no need for protests.


During the match, we urge all supporters to get behind the team to boost their chances of a much-needed 3 points.




David Johnson


Following publication of this post today, the following tweets and associated content appeared from Mr Les Reid. Any implied threat - whether intended or not - will be overlooked. I have agreed to Mr Reid's request to include his comments because:

  1. I see no problem with him having a right to reply, though obviously I do not agree with his observations; it is a pity that he did not extend the same opportunity to the fans' groups that he referenced in his article yesterday.
  2. Readers can make their own mind up about the nature and content of his remarks.


Les Reid ‏@Lesreidpolitics 50m50 minutes ago

 To David Johnson. After taking advice, your defamatory article needs to insert the following reply, urgently


 To David Johnson. After taking advice, your defamatory article needs to insert the following reply, urgently