Host Gillingham at the Ricoh on Friday night
4 September ~ Just over a week ago Coventry City's League One fixture against Gillingham was set to be another sparsely attended "home" game played at Northampton Town's Sixfields ground. The Sky Blues have since announced that they have reached an agreement to return to the Ricoh Arena. This has seen the match moved to Friday night for live television coverage, queues form around the block at the club's ticket office and an outpouring of emotion from supporters.
This summer, as Coventry City's owners SISU battled in court against the city council over the latter's decision to effectively take over the mortgage on the Ricoh, it seemed that a solution to the club's exile 35 miles from home was as far away as ever. Like anything where politics is involved though it seemed that you had to read between the lines to understand what was really going on as the 2014-15 campaign began.
A couple of carefully worded statements appeared on the official website to the effect that the club might be open to talks while the Sun ran a story at least a week before the announcement that gave September 6 as the return date. Manager Steven Pressley was more vocal on the subject than he had been previously. Secret talks had in fact been going on for some weeks and were reportedly set in motion by the Dean of Coventry, John Witcombe, who brought the warring parties together.
While those involved in the talks may finally have realised that they needed each other more than they would previously admit, especially SISU after their case was dismissed quite comprehensively by the judge, a well co-ordinated series of protests and campaigns from various supporters' groups and the local evening paper, the Coventry Telegraph, also played their part.
The long-term future is still unclear and wrapped up in the stadium issue. SISU remain deeply unpopular and if they do not manage to gain control of the Ricoh then there is a danger that the whole situation could be replayed, especially as their claims to be building a new stadium just outside the city boundary have proved hollow.
For now though, aided by some long overdue good PR from the club (tickets for the Gillingham game have been priced at £10), it is the short term that is taking precedence. For Coventry City supporters that means getting back to the simple pleasure of watching their team in their home city and not having to take difficult decisions about whether their attendance is helping or hindering the club to survive. Alex Wolstenholme