|If there is one thing that all parties involved in
Bryan Richardson’s dramatic departure from the Coventry City
boardroom are agreed on it is that the departing Chairman was
ambushed by his fellow directors.
It was just another Wednesday morning as far as Richardson was
concerned as he drove to his office at Highfield Road. Just two
things were of particular note: first and foremost, the night before
he had seen a makeshift city side pull off an against the odds 3-1
win at Crystal Palace with goals from Jay Bothroyd, Marcus Hall and
Gary McSheffrey, and second the board had asked him for a previously
unscheduled meeting at which he expected to provide them with an
update on progress of the club’s planned new stadium.
If he thought that this request was unusual or curious there was
nothing to suggest it in his manner prior to the meeting. Those that
saw him described him as appearing particularly pleased with life,
following the away win and news of the go-ahead being given for the
Club’s new Academy in Allard Way.
The meeting had not been going long however, before the Chairman
realised that he faced a challenge to his role. He was told that the
board were unhappy about the way he had conducted the club’s
business, in particular that they were often the last to hear about
the transfer of players, deals which involved by definition,
significant sums of money.
With the club struggling against its huge debt mountain he was
told that the board found this unacceptable. Other criticisms were
also levelled at him before a vote of no confidence in him as
Chairman and Chief Executive.
All members of the board were present, except for Derek Higgs,
who was on holiday but took part via conference phone. The vote of
no confidence was carried unanimously and Bryan Richardson was asked
for his resignation.
Now – here is where it all gets a bit confused. The board –
again unanimously – elected Mike McGinnity, Richardson’s deputy
for the past eight years, as Chairman, and he says:
“It is within the articles of our club that if there is a
unanimous loss of faith then we (the board) have the right to
remove him (Richardson).”
During the meeting the club’s articles of association that Mike
McGinnity refers to were shown to Bryan Richardson so that there
could be no misunderstanding.
However, Richardson now insists that he “has not resigned”
and that “if the board choose to remove me as Chairman or Chief
Executive that is something they have to notify me about.”
Given that both Richardson and McGinnity agree that the former
had no prior notice of the plan to oust him, indeed Richardson
freely admits he was “ambushed” while McGinnity acknowledges
that his predecessor showed “total shock” at what happened, it
would appear that Richardson is considering using what he regards as
a failure to notify him as a case for unfair dismissal.
He will receive some form of compensation, though McGinnity
refused to drawn on how much that would be or on what it would be
based. A claim for unfair dismissal, were it to be made, would
obviously influence that situation.
Talking of influence, I wonder whether there is a connection
between this dramatic boardroom coup and the re-election to the
board ten days before of millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson.
The former Paymaster General made a loan to the club of £10-million,
which is still outstanding.
If, as Mike McGinnity now suggests, that the club’s financial
situation is such that it could have gone out of business within 12
to 18 months, Robinson’s £10-million would have gone with it.
Now, it could be argued, if the right rescue act occurs, he has a
fighting chance of seeing some form of return on that investment.
Promotion back to the Premiership and the construction – at
last – of the new stadium, remain the priorities. The board room
changes do not mean that either will necessarily happen any quicker
than they otherwise would, though if the McGinnity prediction of
total financial collapse is correct, neither would have occurred at
all because there would no longer have been a Coventry City Football
There can only be one way forward now – for everyone to pull
together. For better or worse, the board has acted.
On the pitch, the players – and in particular the kids – have
shown they can do it; it’s down to us now – you and me and
everyone who calls themselves a Sky Blue, to get behind them in
every possible way.
The ambush has occurred; the revolution is under way. It
continues against Gillingham on Saturday.