Coventry City: EFL Trophy tie watched by lowest-ever crowd for first-team game

Coventry closed an entire stand at the Ricoh Arena for the home Checkatrade Trophy tie against Crawley
Coventry closed two entire stands at the Ricoh Arena for the Checkatrade Trophy tie against Crawley

Struggling Coventry City's off-field problems were further highlighted at the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday night as they attracted their lowest-ever crowd for a first-team game.

Only 1,338 spectators turned up for the EFL Trophy second-round tie against Crawley Town, which they won 1-0.

League gates have already dipped this season, with an average attendance more than 3,000 down on last season.

Sky Blues fans are unhappy at the way their club is run by owners Sisu.

Only one and a half stands were open at the 32,609-capacity stadium for the game against Crawley, with just 57 away fans making the trip.

The crowd was lower even than the 1,603 who watched City's game against Carlisle United in February 2014, during their season at Sixfields, Northampton - the club's previous lowest ever 'home' crowd.

The decline and fall of Coventry City

Although attendance figures initially rose when City left Highfield Road for the Ricoh Arena in 2005, interest in the club has been decreasing steadily over the past decade, especially since relegation to League One in 2012.

The Sky Blues are in their fifth campaign in the third tier of English football - and only once has their average seasonal attendance increased in that time - last term's relatively successful campaign, when they briefly led League One under Tony Mowbray before falling away to finish eighth.

Under interim manager Mark Venus, they are currently in the relegation zone, in 21st place, after four straight league defeats.

Relegation would take the club to their lowest place in the Football League since winning promotion from the old Division Four in 1959.

City fans, who boycotted home games in the year at Northampton, have become increasingly dispirited this season.

At the recent home fixture against MK Dons, they staged a mock funeral procession "in affectionate remembrance of Coventry City Football Club which is dying due to neglect and abuse at the hands of Sisu from 2007 to 2016".

Covfans2gether protest
Since Sisu took over at Coventry they have been relegated to League One and spent a season playing at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium

They also joined in with equally disaffected Charlton Athletic supporters in the joint 'pigs might fly' pitch protest in the away match at The Valley in October.

Coventry's previous Trophy gates

Coventry have had some success in the Football League Trophy, reaching the two-leg Northern final in 2012-13, before going out in the Southern semis in 2014-15.

However, there appears to be less interest generally in this season's revamped competition, and Coventry's two previous home ties this season each attracted just over 2,000 fans.

But prior to this season, City's average home attendance in the Trophy was 12,284.

2012-13: Beaten Northern section finalists

  • 5,437 v Burton Albion
  • 10,162 v Sheffield United
  • 12,655 v Preston North End
  • 31,054 Crewe Alexandra

2013-14: Knocked out in second round (no home tie)

2014-15: Beaten Southern section semi-finalists

  • 7,273 v Exeter City
  • 7,121 v Plymouth Argyle

2015-16: Knocked out in second round (no home tie)

2016-17: Last 16

  • 2,091 v West Ham Under-21s
  • 2,033 v Northampton Town
  • 1,338 v Crawley Town

Average Sky Blues home league gates since 2004

Championship: 2004-05 - 16,048 (final year at Highfield Road)Championship: 2005-06 - 21,302 (first season at Ricoh Arena)
Championship: 2006-07 - 20,342Championship: 2007-08 - 19,123
Championship: 2008-09 - 17,451Championship: 2009-10 - 17,305
Championship: 2010-11 - 16,309Championship: 2011-12 - 15,118 (relegated to League One)
League One: 2012-13 - 10,864League One: 2013-14 - 2,348 (Sixfields)
League One: 2014-15 - 9,332League One: 2015-16 - 12,570
League One: 2016-17 - 9,162