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COVENTRY City's battle for Championship survival hinges on three crucial matches on Tuesday night.
ANDY Thorn and his players didn't know it at the time but just past 3.30pm on Saturday they were as good as relegated.
SOME things become much easier to take the more times you experience them.
Missing the bus by a matter of mere seconds, for example, may be the source of great frustration the first time it happens, but after a few more similar experiences you may come to realise that sometimes that's just the way it goes.
Losing a football match in the closing seconds, however, is not one of those things.
WHAT difference a game makes.
Heading into Saturday's match all looked rosy in Camp Sky Blue. The bitter and ultimately distracting dispute between owners and fans took a backseat as it often does when results take a turn for the better, resulting in an optimistic and somewhat upbeat atmosphere that has been notable by its absence from The Ricoh in recent weeks.
A spirit-lifting victory against a Nottingham Forest side who, although smothered by the blanket of backroom turmoil, remain a team full of quality players, provided a significant boost to confidence.
Add to that the joy of a last minute equaliser (a joy that is only bested by that which accompanies a last minute winner) and you've got a team who when faced with a side who've lost two on the bounce have to be looking at taking all of the spoils.
It's hard to put your finger on just what went wrong...
IT could be compared to worrying about whether or not you left the stove on whilst your house is smashed to bits by a tornado, but these next three hundred words will nevertheless be based on Coventry City's goalless draw with Watford on Saturday.
What was a relatively unexciting game pales totally into insignificance in the face of the boardroom struggle currently taking place at The Ricoh, a struggle that could perhaps reach a climax this very week.
This is no excuse, however, to neglect the happenings on the pitch.
The biggest pre-season game for Coventry City has already kicked off and looks to be far from a friendly affair.
Coventry City fan and successful businessman Gary Hoffman has achieved what many others have failed to do over recent years and has found real financial backers who are prepared to pump an initial £30 million into Coventry City to bring an end to the shameful antics of the current owners. SISU have assembled what they deem to be a high flying board with the ability to reduce or at least slow the leak in the CCFC finances and are clinging to their investment in the hope that it can become the cash cow that they hoped it would be.
According to reports the initial offer of £1 plus a commitment to invest an immediate £20 million to make the club financially stable and to strengthen the playing squad (at last) with a further £10 million allocated to buy half of the Ricoh Arena. This has been rejected by SISU for a technicality saying that it was not received on the correct headed paper. Reading between the lines, which we have to do as we never seem to hear any news of consequence from the current board, the offer is either not enough to satisfy the SISU exit policy, the club is actually not for sale as per the Chief Executive Paul Clouting's statement or is there so much bad blood from Hoffman's previous tenure as Vice Chairman that SISU just do not want to sell to him!
Dealing with the options one at a time, an offer of £1 may not seem attractive, but balanced with the fact that SISU have shown no intention of investing hard cash in the club and must surely be running out of assets to liquidate to cover losses now, has to be valued at £6 million per year with a promise of all of their losses refunded if the club becomes successful. Even as a first offer that does not sound too bad to me, especially when you consider that there is very little evidence of cash being invested by the current owners other than the sale of players, prozone and loans against next seasons income.
To hear a Chief Executive stating that "the club is not for sale" cannot possibly be true. Everthing and indeed in football everyone has their price, which brings me to point 3. Gary Hoffman resigned as he was unhappy with how SISU were (and are) running the club and made it public knowledge what we all feared. Has that caused such a breakdown in relationship that this takeover can only be seen as hostile. I truly hope not for the future of Coventry City as this shambles has gone on for way too long. We thank SISU for "saving the club" in 2007 but they are now making it worse and we have the opportunity of real investment with a fan at the helm. Please put aside your differences and get this resolved.
Whatever the result the club will continue in some format long after the SISU v Hoffman battle has completed so lets play nicely lads and then we can start talking football and not finances for once.
So once again we find ourselves on the brink of financial disaster, a transfer embargo and a ten point deduction before we have even kicked a ball in anger.
The way our precious Club, and the fans of our Club are being treated is nothing short of disgusting.
The writing was on the wall a long time ago for SISU, like i said in my last article, why invest in a failing football club if you are not prepared to invest in the infrastructure of that Club and take it forward?
And then, when Gary Hoffman gives them a way out of the black hole that they have created, the Brody Bunch don't like the paper it's written on!
SISU, it doesn't matter who you draft in to sit around your table (Paul Clouting apart) to listen to your weird and wonderful suggestions to "turn this club around". Neither does it matter who you try and prevent from having a voice around that table, because those people are part of the Sky Blue Army, and care passionately about our club and the people that support it through thick and thin.
I am sure I speak for just about every fan of Coventry City when I say, SISU, you are not wanted at our Football Club any more, and you are not welcome at our Football Club any more, this Footbal Club belongs to us, irrespective of who's name is above the door.
You have bought this Club into disrepute and made it the laughing stock of the Football League, you have lied to us and treated with utter contempt, the hard working and loyal fans of Coventry City Football Club,
Please now, do the decent thing, pick up the phone to Gary Hoffman, arrange a meeting as soon as possible, agree to the deal put forward, sign it without delay, and close the door on your way out!
AS Richard Wood's header nestled into the bottom corner, the feeling of ecstasy that accompanied it was somewhat overshadowed by a crippling fear for the safety of the two goal lead that we'd just acquired.
I replied to multiple (premature) congratulatory texts expressing my awareness of the inevitability of our demise. I would love to say that correctly predicting the outcome of the game softened the blow, but I would be lying.
Much like a piece of Lego, today's defeat at the hands of QPR was hard to swallow.
Surrendering a lead, albeit one that was earned against the run of play, is never easy to take, and it's unfortunate that the Sky Blues couldn't return home with at least a point after producing what was ultimately an admirable performance.
Flair was the dish of the day, with Taarabt and Routledge oozing "swagger" from every orifice. Even the sturdiest of defences would be pushed to breaking point when faced with two of the Championship's fiercest tricksters, and for all their hard work it was eventually two pieces of magic that ultimately undid Coventry City.
How else would you describe the fiasco that was the decision to give a penalty in the last minute to Cardiff?
City were mugged. And it comes to something when the Cardiff manager Dave Jones says, "It's a little bit harsh the penalty for handball". He's had a run in or two with referees of late and our own Mr Coleman thought that he... "says it best, when he says nothing at all" avoiding the press after the game. Instead he sent Coventry Citys own Kofi Anan aka Steve Harrison. He's going to look at the DVD before he would comment further. At least that way it keeps Chris Coleman off the carpet at the FA for another dressing down in front of those professional football administrators.
It's time for change. It's time football came into this millennium. So much can rest on a decision. Millions of pounds as was the case when Chelsea were denied numerous iron clad penalty shouts vying for a place in the final of the Champions League recently. Teams have gone down because of wrong decisions. It's sometimes that close that it comes down to just one decision. It's ludicrous to continue to endure this when there is a simple solution.
It's time to introduce technology to assist referees. The TV cameras are at the games. If a marginal sport like Rugby League can do it why can't our national game. Have a fourth official, have a challenge system that give the team captain the right to check a decision.
Perhaps then the Sky Blues won't fear being mugged again.
I DIDN'T think the Sky Blues had it in them, to come back from two goals down, to get the draw.
We were outplayed for long periods, especially in the first half, when Boro showed some Premiership class, but thankfully for us, they can't sustain it over a whole match.
And their defence is as leaky as ours, when we put pressure on them, they couldn't handle it, but fair play to the City for a real battling effort.