The Sky Blues
EFL League One
Coventry, United Kingdom
Sky Blue Lodge
Coventry City Football Club
13 August 1883; 133 years ago (1883-08-13) (as Singers F.C.)
Otium Entertainment Group (subsidiary of SISU)
Otium Entertainment Group Limited
Coventry City Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Coventry, West Midlands, England. The team compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system.
- History in brief
- Kit maker and sponsorship
- 106 years at Highfield Road
- Relocating to the Ricoh Arena
- 2013 rent row and ground relocation
- Ricoh return
- Former Players Association
- Sky Blue Trust
- SISU Out protesters
- Sky Blue anthem
- First team squad
- Under 18 squad
- Seasons awards and honours
- Player records
Coventry City, which was formed as Singers F.C. in 1883, joined the Football League in 1919. They won their only major trophy in 1987 when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3–2 to win the FA Cup in a match listed by the FA as one of the twelve classic FA Cup Finals. They are one of only five clubs to have ever won the FA Cup and FA Youth Cup 'double' in the same season and they also reached two Football League Cup semi-finals: in 1981 and 1990. They returned to Wembley in 2017 after reaching the English Football League Trophy final.
The club, which is nicknamed The Sky Blues because of the colour of their strip, was an inaugural member of the Premier League in 1992 and had spent 34 consecutive seasons (since 1967) in the English top flight prior to their relegation in 2001. Following eleven seasons in the second-tier Football League Championship without any significant success, Coventry were relegated to Football League One in 2012, the first time in 48 years that the club played in the English league system's third tier.
Coventry have qualified for European competitions twice. In the 1970–71 season the club competed in the European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (now the UEFA Europa League), reaching the second round. Despite beating Bayern Munich 2–1 in their home leg, they had lost 1–6 in the first leg in Munich to go out of the competition. They were unable to compete in the 1987–88 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup due to the ban on English clubs at that time.
From 1899 to 2005, Coventry City played at the Highfield Road stadium. In 1981 it became the first all-seater stadium in English football, though by the late-1990s the club's directors decided it was time to construct a larger stadium and chose a site in the Rowley's Green area of the city. The 32,609-capacity Ricoh Arena was opened in August 2005, but following a rent dispute with the ground's owners the club opted to play their home games at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium starting in the 2013–14 season. A return to the Ricoh Arena was announced on 21 August 2014 by the club after a one-year absence.
History in brief
Coventry's home shirts are either completely or predominately sky blue. However, in past seasons, different 'home colours' were worn. For example, in 1889, the then Singers FC wore pink and blue halved shirts (mirroring the corporate colours of Singers Motors). Furthermore, in the 1890s, black and red were the club's colours. In the early 1920s, the club wore red and green (to reflect the colours of the city crest). Sky blue was first used by Coventry in 1898 and the theme was used until 1922. Variations of blue and white were then used until the 1960s and the beginning of the 'sky blue revolution'. The colour made its return in 1962 thanks to the then manager, Jimmy Hill. To mark the 125th year of the club, Coventry wore a special brown shirt in the last home game of the 2008–09 season against Watford, having first worn a chocolate brown away kit in 1978. This kit has been cited by some as the worst in English football history, but also has an iconic status with some fans.
In 2012, in the Third round FA Cup tie versus Southampton, the team wore a commemorative blue and white striped kit, marking the 25th anniversary of the club winning the FA Cup in 1987. The strip was worn again in January 2013 for Coventry's 3rd round FA Cup fixture with Tottenham Hotspur, whom they beat in the 1987 final.
Kit maker and sponsorship
As of the 2015–16 season, the kit is made by Nike (via Just Sport Group – Nike's official affiliate). The home kit is sponsored by Allsopp & Allsopp.
The first official kit manufacture deal came in 1974, when Umbro signed a deal with the club. Coventry also had the first kit sponsorship deal in the football league, when Jimmy Hill, then Chairman of the club, negotiated a deal with Talbot, who manufactured cars in the city.
106 years at Highfield Road
Coventry City began playing at the Highfield Road stadium in 1899 within the Hillfields district of the city, although the club did not buy the freehold to the site until 1937. The ground had an interesting history. In 1940 the main stand which backed onto terraced houses in Mowbray Street was bombed by the Luftwaffe, heavy turnstiles from the ground and gas meters from houses in Mowbray Street were discovered in Gosford Park, some 500 metres away.
The record crowd at the ground was on 29 April 1967 when 51,455 watched the Second Division title decider against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This was more than 6,000 more than the previous record set against Aston Villa in 1938. Many people who were at that game suggest the attendance was a lot higher, possibly over 60,000. Supporters climbed onto the roofs of the stands and up the floodlights.
In 1968, the main stand burnt down and its replacement was built within four months.
In 1981, Highfield Road was converted into England's first ever all-seater stadium with a capacity of around 24,500, which many criticised as killing the atmosphere of the ground. Some seats were removed a few years later. It had been gradually upgraded since then, with the final phase of work being completed in the mid-1990s, including two fully enclosed corners, providing some much-needed modernity. On 30 April 2005, the final game played at the stadium was against Midlands rivals Derby County; Coventry won with a scintillating 6–2 scoreline. The stadium was subsequently demolished and replaced by a housing development.
Relocating to the Ricoh Arena
For the 2005–06 season, Coventry City moved to the new 32,609-capacity Ricoh Arena after 106 years at Highfield Road. In 1998, the club had decided that it was time to relocate to a new stadium in the Rowleys Green area of the city, three-and-a-half miles north of the city centre and close to junction 3 of the M6 motorway. The original plan was for a state-of-the-art, 45,000-seater multipurpose stadium with removable pitch and retractable roof. It was due to be ready for the 2001–02 season and was touted to be one of the finest and most advanced stadiums in Europe. However, the club's subsequent relegation, financial problems, financier/contractor withdrawals and England's failure to secure the 2006 World Cup competition led to a radical redesign. The resulting stadium was built to a standard bowl design with steep stands, in line with several other new stadia built during that period, though it has excellent acoustics and has been used to host several major rock concerts.
Despite initiating the project and being the principal attraction there, Coventry City's financial situation means that they no longer own the stadium and must pay rent to use it; this could appear to raise concerns over the managing of the club's finances by previous club officials, as in 2001 the club were the fourth-longest serving club in the top flight of English football. The stadium naming rights were originally sold to Jaguar Cars, which has strong links with Coventry. Jaguar pulled out of the project on 16 December 2004 and a new major sponsor was needed. A £10 million deal, which included naming rights, was signed and electronics manufacturer Ricoh became the new chief sponsor for the stadium. The project was funded largely by Coventry City Council and the (Alan Edward) Higgs Charity (of which former CCFC and ACL director the late Sir Derek Higgs was a trustee), and includes shopping facilities, a casino, exhibition halls and a concert venue.
At the beginning of the 2005–06 season, construction delays at the ground forced Coventry City to play their first three games of the season away and postpone their home games. On Saturday 20 August 2005, City hosted Queens Park Rangers in the first-ever game at the Ricoh Arena; Coventry won the game 3–0. On 28 July 2011, a statue of Jimmy Hill was installed at the main entrance to the Ricoh Arena, with Hill appearing in person to unveil it.
2013 rent row and ground relocation
On 3 May 2013, Coventry City put a contingency plan in place to play elsewhere for the 2013–14 season. It was argued by the club that this was due to ACL (Arena Coventry Limited), who manage the stadium, being unwilling to negotiate with the club to agree a new lease. However, this led to the local newspaper, the Coventry Telegraph, starting a petition in order to try stopping Coventry City from playing outside of Coventry. It was sent to all 72 clubs in the Football League and also the Football League chairman. In May 2013, managing director Tim Fisher set a plan of building a new stadium within the city over the next three years and ground-sharing whilst the new ground is being built. In June 2013, ACL made an offer that Coventry City F.C. could play at the Ricoh Arena rent free while the club was in administration.
It was believed that Coventry City might ground-share with Walsall at the Bescot Stadium or attempt to stay at the Ricoh Arena, following the appointment of new owners. However, by July 2013, the Walsall rumours were denied and the club groundshared at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium – a ground that has less than one quarter the capacity of the Ricoh Arena and a round-trip of 70 miles. This was due to continue until at least 2016. Plans for the club to play their home matches outside of the city were met with strong opposition and protests by Coventry fans. Member of parliament for Coventry South, Jim Cunningham, described the move as "a disgrace".
On 21 August 2014 it was announced an agreement had been reached allowing the club to return to the Ricoh Arena for the next two years with the option of another two years. Coventry City's first home game at the Ricoh Arena was played against Gillingham on 5 September 2014. Steve Waggott, who led the negotiations for the club said "We are delighted to get this deal done and I am sure every supporter of Coventry City will be thrilled with the news". City won their first match back at the Ricoh Arena 1–0 with Frank Nouble scoring the only goal of the match in front of 27,306 supporters.
The return followed a social media campaign entitled #bringCityhome by the Coventry Telegraph and a protest march by the Sky Blue Trust supporters' group. The campaign drew praise from national media and figures within the football world. It was shortlisted at The Press Gazette British Journalism Awards 2014 in the Campaign of the Year category.
It has been reported that there will be a relocation to another site within the city, as the tenancy with Ricoh Arena expires in August 2018.
In May 2016, the Coventry Telegraph broke the news that the club had drawn up plans with Coventry Rugby Club for a ground share arrangement at a redeveloped Butts Park Arena.
Former Players' Association
In February 2007 a Former Players' Association was launched. Set up by club historian and statistician Jim Brown, former 1980s player Kirk Stephens and a committee of volunteers, its aim was to bring former players of the club together and cherish their memories. To qualify for membership players have to have made at least one first team competitive appearance for the club or been a manager.
Around 50 former stars of the club attended the launch including Coventry City legends George Hudson, Cyrille Regis, Charlie Timmins and Bill Glazier. The association's first newsletter was published in autumn 2007 and a website launched. The launch of 2007 was followed by subsequent Legends' Days. The 2009 event, held at the home game against Doncaster Rovers was attended by 43 former players including the first visit to Coventry for many years of Roy Barry and Dave Clements. In March 2012 the membership had increased past the 200 mark with former captain Terry Yorath inducted as the 200th member at the 2012 Legends' Day.
Sky Blue Trust
The Sky Blue Trust is a supporters' trust for Coventry City F.C.; it was founded in 2003 as part of a national initiative under the auspices of the umbrella group, Supporters Direct. The Sky Blue Trust, like trusts at other clubs, is a legally based, independent, democratic supporters' group with membership open to all. One of the Sky Blue Trust's greatest achievements was raising funds to save the football club's Youth Academy which was threatened with closure. By 2009/2010, however, the trust had become moribund. Given the ongoing financial uncertainty at Coventry City, the trust was re-launched in the summer of 2012. A new board for the trust was elected and from having less than 20 members the trust grew to over 700 within three months,TV pundit John McCririck is a well known member of the trust. The key aim of the Sky Blue Trust is to obtain a financial stake in Coventry City F.C. and have at least one democratically elected trust member on the club's board, meaning that supporters have a direct say in the running of the club.
'SISU Out' protesters
In August 2011, after Coventry City fans became tired of cost-cutting by SISU, Coventry fans started to protest for the removal of SISU. Protests took place at the Jimmy Hill Statue at the Ricoh Arena before games but limited numbers turned out. However, after these games the number of protesters grew and so did the number of banners. After protesting near the rear entrance, the fans moved into the lobby and start chanting "SISU OUT" at which point a large number of "security response guards" moved in to remove the protesters.
Another protest was staged on 15 October 2016 as Coventry and Charlton Athletic fans threw hundreds of plastic toy pigs onto the pitch during a 3–0 loss for Coventry. Play was stopped for around 5 minutes. This protest was a joint effort between Coventry and Charlton fans against their respective owners.
On 15 December 2016, the televised match between Coventry and Sheffield United was temporarily halted after 86 minutes due to on-field protests, once again against owners SISU. The atmosphere of the match was dominated by Coventry supporters whistling loudly and chanting anti-SISU protests in the stands throughout the entire 90 minutes.
There were protest's at Northampton away on the 28th January 2016 when flares were thrown onto the pitch and pitch invasions. The play was stopped many times and the players were removed from the field of play twice.
There were further protests against Millwall, as many tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch to halt play, on 4 February 2017 at the Ricoh Arena.
Sky Blue anthem
The words to the club's song were written in 1962 by Team Manager Jimmy Hill and Director John Camkin; The words being set to the tune of the Eton Boating Song. It was launched at the home game with Colchester on 22 December 1962 (a match abandoned at half-time because of fog) with the words printed in the programme. It quickly became popular with supporters during the epic FA Cup run in 1963 when the then Third Division team reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before losing to eventual winners Manchester United:
As of 2012, Coventry fans consider Leicester City, with whom they contest the M69 derby, to be their main rivals. Aston Villa are the club's traditional rivals but in recent years this has become somewhat one-sided rivalry as the latter have several stronger local rivalries. A lesser rivalry also exists with Birmingham City. In the 1960s and early 1970s Wolves were the biggest local rivalries, and the teams had some classic games during that era, including the 1967 game at Highfield Road when 51,452 watched a 3–1 Coventry win, which ultimately meant the Sky Blues pipped Wolves to the Second Division title.
First team squadAs of 14 February 2017.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Under-18 squadAs of 8 October 2016.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Seasons, awards and honours
† Coventry City deducted 10 points by the Football League for going into administration.
†† Coventry City deducted 10 points by the Football League.
* Season in progress.