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It’s time to help the clubs in crisis

OPINION: The plight of Coventry City – who recently featured in a lockdown screening of the 1987 FA Cup final – is one which should not be casually ignored

07 May, 2020 — By Richard Osley

ITV did us all a favour on Saturday and lightened our lockdown loads by showing the 1987 FA Cup final – the greatest final, if you don’t include the ones Arsenal won.

There Coventry City were, beating Hoddle, Waddle and Ardiles, with big hairy Brian Kilcline – a face of 80s Panini – hobbling up the Wembley steps to lift the silverware because he’d hurt himself with a useless foul.

No, we don’t want to see re-runs of the 1966 World Cup, they’re always showing clips of that. Instead, bring on perfectly mowed lawns, the loopy defending and end-to-end cup finals, which Tottenham somehow end up losing.

The programme ended with the streets of Coventry full of sky blue scarves and hats, and the players and manager predicting that this was just the start for the club.

You may laugh at this forecast, but, folks, the losing team in that final haven’t fared much better, with only one major trophy and a minor trophy in the 33 years since.

Spurs at least have stayed in the top league and the story of Coventry City in recent years is one which should not be casually ignored.

They held their own place for a while, but then slipped through relegations, hit financial trouble and now have to play at Birmingham’s ground, having been forced to leave their own stadium.

What could be sadder than that? Imagine telling cult hero goalie Steve Ogrizovic in May 1987 what would actually happen. Football needs Coventry City as much as it needs Bolton Wanderers and Bury, and all the other teams who have run out of money or are running out of money even quicker in the coronavirus pandemic.

From top to bottom, ”the 92” is what makes football in England special, and it’s what makes cup ties special.

Our towns and cities are better for having a football club 15 minutes from the station.

And even if you are 250 miles away, you know roughly what colour kit each team plays in and some random bit of trivia, just in case you ever run into… a West Brom fan. Their stadium is the highest above sea-level. Ian Botham played for Scunthorpe. Uri Geller supports Exeter. Northampton Town are called the Cobblers.

This week it was suggested “several” clubs could go bankrupt. There may be no gate receipts until next year, they fear. In Germany, the clubs in the Champions League were quick to set up a new solidarity fund to help struggling clubs.

If we love the 1987 Cup Final as much as we remembered, the top of the Premier League should increase the sharing too.


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