Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City: What fans thought of tenants v landlords

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Highlights: Coventry City 0-0 Birmingham City

As a Birmingham City season-ticket holder for 20 years, James Jenkinson has seen hundreds of league and cup games at St Andrew's.

He was there again for Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round goalless stalemate with Coventry City. This visit, however, was like no other.

Instead of being sat in his usual seat in the Kop, Jenkinson had to watch his team in a different part of the ground - one of thousands of Birmingham fans stationed in the away section of their own stadium.

Having struck an arrangement to use Birmingham's facilities for home matches this season - after being unable to agree a deal to stay at Ricoh Arena - League One Coventry hosted the Blues after being drawn as the 'home' side.

While the action on the pitch was disappointing, it was a surreal occasion off it - the ground's tenants hosting their landlords with a place in the last 16 at stake.

"It was bizarre seeing other fans in your own end," Jenkinson told BBC Sport.

"It sounds petty but I don't like other people in my seat. It's kind of territorial and it didn't feel right."

Coventry fans at St Andrew's
The two teams will face each other in a replay with Coventry fans in the away end

Eight-mile coach journey

The surroundings might have been familiar but Birmingham treated this like a normal away game.

Instead of arriving individually by car as they would normally do for a game at St Andrew's, Pep Clotet's players boarded the team coach at their Wast Hills training base in the south of the city for the eight-mile journey to the ground, where they occupied the away dressing room.

While Coventry played in their traditional sky blue colours, Blues were decked out in their yellow and royal blue third strip.

"We're kind of like brothers sharing a home, which makes it nice," said Clotet before the match. There was little brotherly love when Jake Clarke-Salter clattered into a player wearing a sky blue shirt late on which earned the Birmingham player a yellow card.

However, the day ended with handshakes all round and Coventry boss Mark Robins inviting Clotet into his office for a post-match glass of wine.

"After the replay, I'll do the same and invite Mark into the same office," said Clotet.

'You're supposed to be at home'

Coventry fans enter the home end at St Andrew's
Coventry fans were in the home end despite being tenants at St Andrew's

It took Coventry fans 11 minutes before they sarcastically broke into a chorus of "you're supposed to be at home" aimed at their rivals.

The Tilton End - where hardcore Blues fans sit and belt out the club anthem 'Keep Right On to the End of the Road' - was home to Coventry fans for the day.

With the clubs agreeing a near 50-50 split in terms of tickets, there were 9,260 Blues fans in the ground - more than double they would normally have been entitled to receive.

"Ironically, the last time I remember we had so many for an away game was when around 7,000 went to Coventry when Chris Hughton was in charge of Blues," added Jenkinson, co-founder and co-presenter of Birmingham Fan TV.

The good-natured sledging in the stands continued throughout the afternoon. "We want our ground back," roared Birmingham fans in the second half.

Shortly afterwards both sets of fans joined in a derogatory song about local rivals Aston Villa as the atmosphere generated by the 21,193 crowd - Coventry's biggest of the season - crackled.

Mark Watson, a Blues fan for 24 years, could have sat in his normal seat in the Main Stand as it was a designated away area for the day. Instead he opted to watch in the lower tier of the Gil Merrick, where away fans normally sit when Birmingham are at home.

"I did it because I wanted to sing the typical away songs because of the irony of the situation," said Watson.

Before the game, a Coventry announcement over the public address system thanking Birmingham for "allowing us to play our home game at your home" was well received by Blues fans.

'A Jack Grealish scarf would have been more popular'

A fan poses for a picture while holding a half and half scarf prior to the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Coventry City and Birmingham City at St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium
Birmingham produced a limited edition souvenir half and half scarf for the occasion

To mark the occasion of playing 'away' in their own stadium, Birmingham produced a limited edition souvenir half and half scarf decked out in each team's colours and featuring the FA Cup.

While there were some takers, others thought their side had scored a marketing own goal with the item.

"A Jack Grealish scarf would have been more popular," said @Greekbluenose on Twitter in reference to the captain of Birmingham's arch rivals Aston Villa.

"A lot of fans will have looked at them and asked 'who's idea is that?'" added Jenkinson.

"If we were playing Manchester City or Manchester United in the FA Cup you might sell a few. But Coventry City?

"The circumstances surrounding this tie might have been different but it's still Coventry."

Birmingham fan Emily Drakeley was just as forthright. "Birmingham fans don't do half and half scarves," she said. "That's not our vibe."

Watson said he understood the club's reasons for producing the scarves.

"You can't really blame the club for trying to make a few pennies," he said before adding: "But there are other ways."

"I heard fans say before the game they were going to buy them all up so they could bin them."

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