From 1967 until 2001, Coventry City were a staple in the English top-flight. The club from the West Midlands even won the FA Cup as recently as 1987, but they now find themselves in League One, England’s third tier of professional football. Compounding their state of decline is their current standing of 21st in the division, putting them at serious risk of being relegated to League Two.
Under the ownership of Sisu Capital, a hedge fund which purchased the club in 2007, they’ve been relegated from the Championship (following the 2011-12 season) and attendances at the Ricoh Arena, which has a capacity of over 32,000, have now dropped beneath 10,000 on average.
Supporters are aware of the distressing state of their club and tired of the decay from within. With uncertainty surrounding the club’s stay at Ricoh Arena, their training ground and even the status of their famed academy, Coventry supporters twice invaded the pitch to interrupt their match against Sheffield United on Thursday.
The first interruption took place in the first half, but it was a larger protest in the 86th minute, with the scores level at 1-1, that had more of a bearing on the game's result.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) December 16, 2016
Play had to be stopped for six minutes while the stadium staff and public announcer pleaded with the supporters to leave the pitch. Immediately after the restart, Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp scored the go-ahead goal, condemning Coventry to their sixth defeat in seven matches.
According to Coventry’s interim manager, Mark Venus, the protests “had no bearing on the result…To give a late goal away says where we are at the moment, everything seems to go against us.”
However, Coventry City chairman Tim Fisher, unsurprisingly, sees it differently: “If you saw last night with the ‘Sisu out’ banners and the singing, the shoulders of the footballers slump forward. It does affect the psychology of the footballers.”
(H/T: The Guardian)