Coventry City Football Club is an English association football club representing Coventry in the West Midlands, but currently playing home games at Northampton, some 34 miles (55 km) to the southeast of the city. The team competes in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. Nicknamed the Sky Blues owing to the colour of their strip, Coventry City were formed in 1883 as Singers F.C., and they joined the Football League in 1919. Their only major trophy was won in 1987 when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3–2 to win the FA Cup in a match listed by the FA as one of the twelve classic FA Cup Finals. They also reached two League Cup semi-finals, in 1981 and 1990.
The club was an inaugural member of the Premier League in 1992 and had spent an impressive 34 consecutive seasons in the English top flight before being relegated in 2001. Following eleven seasons in the second-tier Football League Championship without any significant success, Coventry were relegated to Football League One in 2012, the first time in 48 years that the club played in the English league system's third tier.
Coventry has only qualified for European competition once, during the 1970–71 season, when they competed in the European Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (now the UEFA Europa League), reaching the second round. Despite beating Bayern Munich 2–1 in their home leg, they lost heavily in the away leg to go out of the competition. They were unable to compete in the 1987–88 UEFA Cup Winner's Cup due to the ban on English clubs at that time.
From 1899 to 2005, Coventry City played at the Highfield Road stadium. In 1981 it became the first all-seater stadium in English football, though by the late-1990s the club's directors decided it was time to construct a larger stadium and chose a site in the Rowley's Green area of the city. The 32,609 capacity Ricoh Arena was opened in August 2005, but following a rent dispute with the ground's owners the club opted to play their home games at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium starting in the 2013–14 season.
1928 – In February, and with Coventry struggling near the foot of Division Three South, the club's worst ever attendance is recorded. Only 2,059 turn up for the match against Crystal Palace.
1932 – Centre-forward Clarrie Bourton heads the Football League scoring lists with 49 goals. The following season he scored 40 goals.
1934 – City record their biggest ever victory a 9–0 league drubbing of Bristol City.
1936 – Coventry City win the Third Division South championship after a nail-biting final day 2–1 victory over Torquay United and return to Division Two after eleven years in the lower division.
1958 – Goalkeeper Alf Wood becomes the oldest player to start a game for the club, which this year was a founding member of Division Four (now Football League Two). He played against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup aged 43 years and 207 days.
1961 – Former Fulham player and PFA chairman Jimmy Hill is appointed manager following an embarrassing FA Cup defeat at home to non-league King's Lynn.
1967 – Coventry City promoted as Second Division champions to the top flight for the first time in their history. This made manager and BBC Sport presenter Jimmy Hill a legend at the club. Coventry's record attendance was also set in this year – officially recorded as 51,455, (although many people who were at that game suggest the attendance was a lot higher, possibly much over 60,000) against Wolverhampton Wanderers, the team that finished a close second to Coventry at the top of the table.
1969-70 – Under Noel Cantwell, Coventry finish 6th in the First Division, their highest League placing.
1977 – Coventry City escaped relegation after drawing with Bristol City who also escaped relegation. The result of this game relegated Sunderland, which has caused many disuputes over the outcome of the match due to the result of the Sunderland game being relayed to Coventry City and Bristol City players for the remainder of the game.
1978 – The strike partnership of Ian Wallace and Mick Ferguson helped the Sky Blues finish in seventh position in the First Division, their second-highest ever final league placing, but fractionally missing out on a UEFA Cup place.
1981 – The club reaches the League Cup semi-final but are denied their first Wembley appearance by West Ham United, despite being 2–1 ahead after the first leg. Highfield Road becomes England's first all-seater stadium.
1989 – Coventry were defeated by non-league Sutton United in the FA Cup Third Round, only 19 months after lifting the trophy. However, their impressive league form meant they equalled their best ever end of season placing, finishing in the top seven once more.
1990 – Coventry reached the League Cup semi-final for the second time, but were defeated by eventual winners Nottingham Forest.
1998 – The club reached the FA Cup quarter-final but were denied a semi-final appearance as Sheffield United (a division below them) won the replay at Bramall Lane on penalties. They also attained their highest Premier League finish of 11th position. Dion Dublin earned the top scorer award, the only one for the club and the second of two players for clubs which never made the top three in the League.
2001 – Coventry relegated from the Premier League after 34 years in the first tier. At the time, only Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal could boast longer tenures in the top flight.
2005 – Coventry relocated to the 32,609 seater Ricoh Arena after 106 years at Highfield Road. The club's last game at Highfield Road stadium results in a 6–2 win over Midlands rivals Derby County in front of a sell-out 23,000 crowd.
2007 – Coventry narrowly avoided administration when Ray Ranson and hedge fund managers SISU took over the club with twenty minutes to spare.
2008 – The club celebrated its 125th anniversary. They avoided relegation to League One despite being beaten 4–1 at Charlton on the final day of the season.
2009 – The first ever complete sell-out of the Ricoh Arena was announced for the FA Cup quarter-final match against Chelsea on 7 March 2009 which Chelsea won 2–0.
2012 – Coventry are relegated to League One, the third tier in English Football, for the first time in 48 years
2013 – The club owners, SISU, place a non-operating subsidiary of the club, which owns no financial assets and has no employee on or off the pitch into administration. The club moved all staff out of the Ricoh Arena and the administrator accepted a bid from the Otium Entertainment Group, a company registered by three ex-Sky Blues directors Ken Dulieu, Onye Igwe and Leonard Brody. The club agrees to play future home matches at Sixfields Stadium, Northampton. Following two adjournments a creditors meeting in August rejected a Company Voluntary Arrangement put forward by the administrator.
Coventry's home shirts are now always sky blue. However this hasn't always been the case. During the 1880s and 1890s, the club used black and red. Sky blue was first used by Coventry in 1898, the sky blue theme was then used until 1922. The colour made its return in 1962 thanks to the then manager, Jimmy Hill. In the 2008–09 season, Coventry used sky blue and white stripes, a design that was used three times that decade. This is a contrast to the late-1990s where sky blue and navy stripes were chosen three times. To mark the 125th year of the club, Coventry wore a special brown shirt in the last home game of the 2008–09 season against Watford having first worn a chocolate brown kit in 1978. This kit is sometimes considered the worst kit in English football history.
In 2012, against Southampton in the FA Cup, they wore a commemorative blue and white striped kit to mark the 25th anniversary of the club winning the FA Cup in 1987. The strip was worn again in January 2013 for Coventry's 3rd round FA Cup fixture with Tottenham Hotspur, whom they beat in the 1987 final.
In February 2007 a Former Players' Association was launched. Set up by club historian and statistician Jim Brown, former 1980s player Kirk Stephens and a committee of volunteers, its aim was to bring former players of the club together and cherish their memories. To qualify for membership players have to have made at least one first team competitive appearance for the club or been a manager.
Around 50 former stars of the club attended the launch including Coventry City legends George Hudson, Cyrille Regis, Charlie Timmins and Bill Glazier. The association's first newsletter was published in autumn 2007 and a website launched. The launch of 2007 was followed by subsequent Legends' Days. The 2009 event, held at the home game against Doncaster Rovers was attended by 43 former players including the first visit to Coventry for many years of Roy Barry and Dave Clements. In March 2012 the membership had increased past the 200 mark with former captain Terry Yorath inducted as the 200th member at the 2012 Legends' Day.
The Sky Blue Trust is a supporters' trust for Coventry City F.C.; it was originally founded in 2003 as part of a national initiative under the auspices of the umbrella group, Supporters Direct. The Sky Blue Trust, like trusts at other clubs, is a legally based, independent, democratic supporters' group with membership open to all. One of the Sky Blue Trust's greatest achievements was raising funds to save the football club's Youth Academy which was threatened with closure. By 2009/2010, however, the trust had become moribund. Given the on-going financial uncertainty at Coventry City, the trust was re-launched in the summer of 2012. A new board for the trust was elected and from having less than 20 members the trust grew to over 700 within three months. The key aim of the Sky Blue Trust is to obtain a financial stake in Coventry City F.C. and have at least one democratically elected trust member on the club's board, meaning that supporters have a direct say in the running of the club.
In August 2011, after Coventry City fans became tired of cost-cutting by SISU, Coventry fans started to protest for the removal of SISU. Protests took place at the Jimmy Hill Statue at the Ricoh Arena before games but limited numbers turned out. However after these games the number of protesters grew and so did the number of banners. After protesting near the rear entrance, the fans moved into the lobby and start chanting "SISU OUT" at which point a large number of "security response guards" moved in to remove the protesters.
The words to the club's song were written in 1962 by Team Manager Jimmy Hill and Director John Camkin; The words being set to the tune of the Eton Boating Song. It was launched at the home game with Colchester on 22 December 1962 (a match abandoned at half-time because of fog) with the words printed in the programme. It quickly became popular with supporters during the epic FA Cup run in 1963 when the then Third Division team reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before losing to eventual winners Manchester United:
Coventry City began playing at the Highfield Road stadium in 1899 within the Hillfields district of the city, although the club did not buy the freehold to the site until 1937. The record crowd at the ground was on 29 April 1967 when 51,455 watched the Second Division title decider against Wolverhampton Wanderers. This was more than 6,000 more than the previous record set against Aston Villa in 1938. Many people who were at that game suggest the attendance was a lot higher, possibly over 60,000. Supporters climbed onto the roofs of the stands and up the floodlights. The ground had an interesting history. In 1940 the main stand which backed onto terraced houses in Mowbray Street was bombed by the Luftwaffe, heavy turnstiles from the ground and gas meters from houses in Mowbray Street were discovered in Gosford Park, some 500 metres away. In 1968, the main stand burnt down and its replacement was built within four months.
In 1981, Highfield Road was converted into England's first ever all-seater stadium with a capacity of around 24,500, which many criticised as killing the atmosphere of the ground. Some seats were removed a few years later. It had been gradually upgraded since then, with the final phase of work being completed in the mid-1990s, including two fully enclosed corners, providing some much-needed modernity. On 30 April 2005, the final game played at the stadium was against Derby County; Coventry won with a 6–2 scoreline. The stadium was subsequently demolished and replaced by a housing development.
For the 2005–06 season, Coventry City moved to the new 32,609-capacity Ricoh Arena after 106 years at Highfield Road. In 1998, the club had decided that it was time to relocate to a new stadium in the Rowleys Green area of the city, three-and-a-half miles north of the city centre and close to junction 3 of the M6 motorway. The original plan was for a state-of-the-art, 45,000-seat, multipurpose stadium with removable pitch and retractable roof. It was due to be ready for the 2001–02 season and was touted to be one of the finest and most advanced stadiums in Europe. However, the club's subsequent relegation, financial problems, financier/contractor withdrawals and England's failure to secure the 2006 World Cup competition led to a radical redesign. The resulting stadium was built to a standard bowl design with steep stands, in line with several other new stadia built during that period, though it has excellent acoustics and has been used to host several major rock concerts.
Despite initiating the project and being the principal attraction there, Coventry City's financial situation means that they no longer own the stadium and must pay rent to use it; this could appear to raise concerns over the managing of the club's finances by previous club officials, as in 2001 the club were the fourth-longest serving club in the top flight of English football. The stadium naming rights were originally sold to Jaguar Cars, which has strong links with Coventry. Jaguar pulled out of the project on 16 December 2004 and a new major sponsor was needed. A £10 million deal, which included naming rights, was signed and electronics manufacturer Ricoh became the new chief sponsor for the stadium. The project was funded largely by Coventry City Council and the (Alan Edward) Higgs Charity (of which former CCFC and ACL director the late Sir Derek Higgs was a trustee), and includes shopping facilities, a casino, exhibition halls and a concert venue.
At the beginning of the 2005–06 season, construction delays at the ground forced Coventry City to play their first three games of the season away and postpone their home games. On Saturday 20 August 2005, City hosted Queens Park Rangers in the first-ever game at the Ricoh Arena; Coventry won the game 3–0. On 28 July 2011, a statue of Jimmy Hill was installed at the main entrance to the Ricoh Arena, with Hill appearing in person to unveil it.
On 3 May 2013, Coventry City put a contingency plan in place to play elsewhere for the 2013–14 season due to ACL (Arena Coventry Limited), who manage the stadium, not being willing to negotiate with the club to agree a new lease. However, this has led to the local newspaper, the Coventry Telegraph, starting a petition in order to try stopping Coventry City from playing outside of Coventry and has been sent to all 72 clubs in the Football League and also the Football League chairman. In May 2013, managing director Tim Fisher set a plan of building a new stadium within the city over the next three years and ground-sharing whilst the new ground is being built. In June 2013, ACL made an offer that Coventry City F.C. could play at the Ricoh Arena rent free while the club was in administration.