Coventry on course for 30,000 crowd at showdown with Crewe… but why the sudden rush to the Ricoh
11:40 GMT, 5 February 2013
16:04 GMT, 5 February 2013
Coventry City are set to smash a few attendance records this evening in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Area final first leg against Crewe Alexandra at the Ricoh Arena.
It has been a testing few years for the Sky Blues…demotion from the Premier League in 2001 followed by relegation from the Championship last year.
But with more than 30,500 supporters expected at the stadium this evening – with 2,000 arriving from Cheshire – at last the club's beleaguered supporters may have something worthwhile to shout about.
Here, Midlands football correspondent Neil Moxley looks at the reasons why so many punters will be turning out tonight.
Filling up: Coventry will be supported by 28,500 fans at the Ricoh Arena
Phew, 28,500 tickets have been sold for this…and it's only the first leg
Yes, but there's a whiff of success in the air and you cannot accuse Coventry City supporters of being fair-weather supporters, can you
I didn't realise the club was so well-supported
Well, Coventry is England's ninth biggest city, so it's little surprise really that they can attract the support if the team is doing well.
Yes, but that's a big 'If', as far as the Sky Blues are concerned, isn't it
Oh yes. It's reasonable to point out that Coventry supporters have just had one knock after another following the club's demotion from the Premier League in 2001.
Then chairman Bryan Richardson left the club either with a whopping 60million debt or a whopping 22m debt – depending on who you believe – and the Sky Blues have become embroiled in one financial problem after another since then.
On the up: Coventry are on the brink of moving into the play-off spots
Right, but what happened to Highfield Road
It's a sore point. Richardson had done a deal to move to a state-of-the-art new stadium on a brownfield site on the outskirts of the city. But, in truth, though it was opened seven years ago, it was done without the proper finances to ensure that the club thrived.
How is that then
Well the matchday revenues were sold off. Coventry still cannot take a penny from a burger, a pint or a pie that they sell to their supporters.
To be honest, it's all a gigantic mess.
Did it contribute to their fall into the Championship
It had an effect, certainly, but it was by no means the only reason and now the current owners, a hedge fund with the acronym of SISU, are trying to sort out the mess. The only trouble is, they have racked up a 43m debt doing so.
So, why are the fans flocking to the stadium tonight
Robins and his arrival at the club following Andy Thorn's sacking
earlier this season has given everyone a huge lift. From being in the
bottom three, Robins has transformed the club's fortunes and now they
are in with a realistic shot at promotion.
Main man: Mark Robins (left) has guided Coventry up the League One table
And in this competition too, a Wembley shot
Yes, some might say Coventry's name might be on it. They won a penalty shoot-out with Burton in an earlier round and defeated Preston last time out 3-2 with two goals in the last few minutes.
How many supporters could the club take to Wembley
Coventry were last at the national stadium in 1987 when they faced Everton in the Charity Shield. Estimates that day put the following at 40,000-plus.
If they can sell out the Ricoh Arena they should have no problem taking up their allocation.
But, as always with Coventry City, it's a mighty big 'If'!