Over the past few tumultuous years, many supporters of Coventry City have consoled themselves with the belief that things cannot get any worse.  Well, they can, and they are on an almost daily basis.

Enough.  We cannot sit idly by waiting for something to happen, we have to take back control and exert whatever influence we have to force change, and I applaud those actively involved in the organisation of coordinated action that raises awareness of our plight.

Later this month there will be a ‘boycott’ of the home game against Rochdale.  While not wishing disingenuous, after all this is supposed to be a well meaning act of defiance intended to be a collective display of anger and disgust, it is perhaps a little misguided and runs the risk of creating further divisions at a time when we should all be coming together.

There are a number of issues with the proposed boycott, not least that it is unlikely to achieve anything or receive any real attention.  You could argue of course that in isolation none of these ‘protests’ will make any meaningful difference, but collectively they will help build pressure and can be viewed as just another turn of the screw.

I get that, but this issue with the boycott is that not only will it not achieve anything on its own, it also has the potential to incite animosity and discord amongst the supporters – and at this moment in time, that’s probably the last thing we need.

For a boycott to be effective it needs publicity, it needs to be picked up by the wider football community and make a noise.  A stadium that is usually full or near capacity suddenly empty – that presents a nice photo opportunity.  But that photo opportunity will not present itself, because what people will see in the aftermath of the Rochdale game are images of a stadium that is slightly less full than it usually is – which is to say almost empty.  A stadium 15% full rather than its usual 20%-25% isn’t much of a headline-grabber.

The photograph above was taken at Wednesday night’s draw with Wimbledon.  To many on the outside, that picture would create the impression that there is already a de facto boycott of games at the Ricoh Arena – it doesn’t require a orchestrated boycott for one game to make the point that there is simmering resentment amongst the fans – because that is evident week in week out.  If I were to take the same picture during the Rochdale game I doubt the scene would look very different.

The other key issue is that the published attendance will not reflect just how successful the boycott has been.  On Wednesday the attendance was 8030 – that being the number of tickets sold rather that the number of people in attendance.  Given that season ticket holders are automatically counted in the attendance, then it is likely that the official Rochdale gate will be somewhere in the region of 7000 – and again, this is unlikely to make any waves.

Some may argue that the real intention is to send a message to SISU.  But do they care?  They were willing to endure more than a season playing in exile in front of 2,000 people, so I doubt they’ll lose too much sleep over the prospect of there being 1500 paying customers rather than 3000 for a one-off game.

I wouldn’t wish for this to be mistaken for apathy.  On the contrary, I believe we should be actively looking to DO as much as possible.  Boycotting one game is not an act of doing, it is an act of not doing.  For many fans who currently choose not to attend games, it is perhaps the easy option.  By not doing something they are not doing anyway, perhaps they have managed to convince themselves that they are actually doing something, but in the scheme of things I’m not sure how useful this is.

That doesn’t apply to all of course, and there are many committed supporters, many who are season ticket holders, who are willing to support the boycott.  For them, this does not represent the easy option and is a difficult sacrifice to make.  So, not to belittle them in any way, because I have no doubt this idea is well intentioned.

I believe that we have been most effective in seeking to raise awareness when we have actually done something.  If we look back on the Northampton exile, the most memorable acts of protest (and certainly the most visible) were the two marches through the streets of the city, and the collective show of defiance at the Arsenal cup tie – helped of course by the fact that game was televised.

There was a boycott at Northampton, and some many argue that ultimately it was that which brought the club home.  Perhaps, but that was a sustained effort and it made sense at the time.  There is no suggestion that this boycott will go extend beyond the Rochdale game – so as a one off gesture it is unlikely to have much impact.

Again, it is very difficult to be critical of those who care deeply and who are making the time to try and force the issue.  That is to be applauded, and it will receive full support from me and I look forward to getting involved in any future planned action.

However, a boycott at this stage, given that we are now starting to see coherent and coordinated actions by various supporters’ groups in an attempt to unite the fanbase, is perhaps a little ill-judged.  If the aim is to unite the supporters, then choosing as the first real attempt at a display of unity something which has the potential to create disunity appears somewhat counter-intuitive.

The Rochdale game will come and go, and we will move on from it.  It will probably pass without issue, aside perhaps from the unfortunate use of the word ‘scab’ by one or two on social media, but we’ll all get over it.

In terms of creating awareness and photo-opportunities that can be shared across media platforms, then the march to the Ricoh ahead of the game has far more potential to do that.  I’ll join that march, but when I get to the Ricoh I’ll be going in.  My choice, and given that it is likely to be the first home game in charge for our new manager, I’d like to be in there to give my support.  My decision, and I hope others respect it.

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