Unofficial Coventry Rugby
February Fans' Forum
By AdminBTCov
February 5 2020

Nick Meredith reports on the Fans' Forum held at the Butts Park Arena on the 4th of February: 

A VERY good crowd turned out for the Supporters' Forum in the Jon Sharp Suite at the BPA yesterday evening. Compered by Chris Wearmouth, it was an opportunity for Jon Sharp, Nick Johnson, and Rowland Winter to talk and gain reactions on the growth of the club.

Jon Sharp started, outlining the current position and talking about development plans for the BPA. He started with phase 1 - the successful installation of the AGP, before going on to describe phase 2 - a health and fitness facility on the front (Butts Road) end of the ground. Changing business conditions had brought this forward since previous proposals had been outlined a couple of years ago. Plans are under discussion for a four storey structure to be built over car parking, to include revised ticketing and club shop facilities and providing a new supporter entrance to the ground. Phase 2 is at the Heads of Agreement stage, with an application for detailed planning permission to be submitted soon.  Phase 3 would then be built on the Broomfield Road side of the ground, with potential for an interim temporary stand on that side of the ground until  a commercially appropriate long-term development could be agreed. The temporary stand would not be expensive - perhaps £120,000.

Nick Johnson went on to discuss commercial growth in the club.

He started with attendances, up 10% in the league and 11% in the cup on last season. He went on to described the effects of the AGP - currently booked every evening, with Football sixes, Coventry University, and other local clubs and schools, as well as the more major tenancies. The tenancies included Coventry Bears, and Coventry United men and women's teams. He spoke briefly on the partnership between the u18 squad, and the supporters' club.

He went on to praise the community outreach programme, and said there would be a separate evening to discuss this in due course, targeted more at parents, and commented on the success of the Project500 scheme.

Nick then got on to Match Day issues, talking about improvements that had been made, and work still to be done. Electronic ticketing was beginning to work well, with e.g. 1002 tickets being pre-purchased online for the Nottingham match. Talking of the food and drink facilities, he explained the rationale for bringing in outside food vans while changes were made, and expressed a plan to bring casual catering back into the control of the club as they continued developing facilities, and now they had more of an idea of what wouldn't work.

Kit for next year had been designed and agreed, and there would be a third kit for the cup competition. There was exasperation shown at how the RFU enforced kit regulations in a totally inconsistent  manner, depending on the clubs involved.

 Rowland came on to talk about growth in the players and the team, describing in significant detail how the targets for a number of metrics had been set, based on the  performance of the top four teams in the Championship.   He showed how we were doing better in some than others, but requested that the details he shared were not published. Some of the figures were counter-intuitive, and in some cases improvements in some were only achieved by poorer results in others.

 He also spoke about various matters regarding recruitment, and the players we have lost to the Premiership. A number of players had been re-signed for next season, others are still having discussions. He expects the squad to, on average, be younger next season, and spoke about how some of the younger players already in the squad contributed some of the calmest rugby minds. He also explained how the older and more experienced players, particularly those with Premiership experience often only become available late in the season when they had been released by current clubs, and that where he had an eye on these players it was counter-productive to sign upcoming younger players early.

 An open question session followed, with a wide variety of questions. It was made clear very early on that no discussion could take place regarding the head coach. At nine-fifteen, two hours after the start, the meeting ended.