It's a reality most football fans don't want to face, but for Coventry City fans the realisation needs to come fast -football is a business first and any notion that it's somehow different is a romantic fantasy. Modern football is about good business and Coventry City FC is a business losing money by the millions every few months. No amount of protests or banner waving is going to change that anytime soon.
I have been critical of Coventry's owners, SISU, in the past; they've undoubtedly got the worst communications strategy in the history of football. They've been aloof, secretive and seemingly without direction for the past 2 years. They've got rid of solid Coventry supporters from the board and replaced them with people who live half-way across the world. They've sold our best players, brought in poor ones, let players leave on free transfers and when challenged, held little but contempt for the fans who've moaned and groaned (as is our right). As a fan of 28 years my passion or more accurately, my belief that things will turn around, is seriously waning- that was until this morning.
This morning I read a rather frank conversation with Coventry's Chairman, Ken Dulieu - a man universally disliked across the stands at the Ricoh Arena. His interview in a national newspaper was incredibly eye opening for me. I'm not a business man but I'm not an idiot either and his full and frank analysis of the business case was refreshing. He didn't talk in spin but in plain financial terms, he didn't offer false promises but a sensible plan of action. He was candid about his relationship to the controlling SISU, to the council and to the fans and clear about how he was going to change that. It didn't read like an attempt to win anyone over but a genuine stab at outlining the financial realities at Coventry City Football Club.
Providing that they understand and accept the realities of modern football, no Coventry City fan should fault him either. It seems to me that it's fairly obvious where the problems lie - we are losing money because our attendances don't cover the costs of player wages, we don't have any really valuable playing assets and we don't own the stadium. This makes us unattractive to investors (and the current owners). And because football is a business, it doesn't actually matter if the football club suddenly buys a couple of half decent players and moves up the league 8 or so places - we still have no assets and a great debt.
Coventry City fans need a reality check. There are no other owners, no Fairy Godmother with £50m stashed up her skirt - there are no other investors. SISU have made some big mistakes and they're not ideal owners of the club and, according to the article, not the most committed either. The solution is not to the run them out of the club, to do so would produce a quick sale to an even less wealthy and suitable owner. SISU have the money, it's time fans voiced their concerns in a more constructive way. Voice your concerns yes but help make the club a smart purchase first.
I believe in protests, even when I think the outcome is unachievable. But the real unachievable in this case is progress through ridding the club of Ken Dilui. Seems to me the bloke deserves an MBE for taking on our club.
The baseline here is that Coventry will not be good at football until its good at business and so Coventry fans should let him get on with making the club attractive to investors again.
Follow Stephen Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LordBrownof