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[10 MAY 99] SPORTS NEWS
Coventry RFC Starts To Build For Next Season

Coventry rugby’s supremo Keith Fairbrother has already started building for next season.

The former Coventry and England prop forward, who moved in with a rescue package last summer, stepped up his player transfer activities within hours of the season’s final whistle.

"We need a squad of thirty players for next season and that is bigger than some First Division clubs," said the Coventry chairman. "You need that size of squad because in the middle of winter when you get a few injuries you need strength in depth."

Coventry were victims of a mid-season slump in the campaign just completed. They finished in seventh place but were left wondering just how high they could have gone with a stronger squad.

Steve Gough, who was awarded ‘player of the year’ after Saturday’s conclusive 40-13 victory over Wakefield, said:

"It has been a real team effort this season, but we have under-achieved. We have shown people that we can do better by beating the big boys here at Coundon Road. But next season we have go one step further and beat them on their own grounds."

Coventry’s players have shown their commitment to the club by suggesting that their summer wages be spread over next season when the club’s finances are boosted by gate receipts.

Initially there was concern when the club terminated the contracts of those players whose agreement ran to August. The majority of the players in the squad are contracted to the end of May and have re-signed for the new season starting in August.

Fairbrother said:

"It was a question of bringing everything into line. I spoke to each player individually and there were no complaints. They have all been offered new contracts for next season. We have no money coming into the club in June and July so it makes sense to do it this way."

Coventry nearly went out of existence last summer after the receivers were called in but a consortium headed by Fairbrother mounted a rescue package.

Just a few days before the season was about to start the club was desperately short of players. They lost the first match at Worcester but then won five matches in succession to be right up with the leaders.

Then came the mid-season slump and director of rugby Derek Eves left to return to Bristol. He was replaced by Keith Richardson.

Coventry found their second wind at the start of April and ended with four wins in the last five matches to give the club heart for the next campaign.

But Fairbrother says:

"There is such a gulf between the First and Second Divisions. There is no automatic promotion to Division One next season – the top club in our division will have to play the bottom club in the top division in a home and away play off. The gulf is so big that the odds are stacked in favour of the First Division club. But there is automatic promotion the year after and that is when we want to make our big push to coincide with our new stadium."
   

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CWN / Sport / Rugby / Coventry RFC / 10 May 99

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