Chelsea supporters to join forces with Coventry fans
Fans attending Saturday's Premier League blockbuster between Chelsea and Arsenal will have the chance to help crisis-club Coventry City.
Coventry – who spent 34 years in England's top flight from 1967-68 to 2000-01 and were FA Cup winners in 1987 – have hit the headlines for the wrong reasons this season.
The League One club were forced out of their stadium, the Ricoh Arena, following disputes with the owners of the venue, and now play "home" matches at Northampton Town's Sixfields – which is more than 50 kilometres away.
Fan group 'Keep Cov in Cov' have organised an e-petition for the club's home games to return to Coventry, viewable on www.FixFootball.co.uk, and need 100,000 signatures before January 2015 for it to be debated in parliament.
Almost 18,000 signatures have been gathered already, but in a bid to raise attention, Coventry supporters will link up with friends from the Chelsea Supporters Trust and ask for help from fans heading to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
With Chelsea's match beginning at 12.45pm (local time) and Coventry's trip to Brentford – who are also based in west London – beginning at 3pm, the supporters will join forces before going off to watch their sides play.
Keep Cov in Cov spokesman Michael Orton told Perform: "Saturday is primarily about getting support and attention.
"We were a founding member of the Premier League (and) FA Cup winners but now we are in financial meltdown.
"We have been on a downward spiral. The ludicrous move to Northampton…we are homeless and we are broke. The situation is untenable.
"The support of fans from other clubs has been immense. We are going to need help (getting signatures). The Chelsea Supporters Trust are great guys and we thank them for their help."
Premier League leaders Chelsea are in great form on the field and their gesture by the club's fans off the pitch is sure to be appreciated.
David Chidgey of the Chelsea Supporters Trust says Coventry's plight is something that should concern all football fans.
"The Chelsea Supporters Trust and Chelsea supporters in general are right behind the Coventry supporters' 'Keep Cov in Cov' campaign," Chidgey said.
"Whilst we are in the unique position of supporters owning the pitch at Stamford Bridge, what is happening to Coventry could happen to the supporters of any club.
"Football clubs historically have and should always be at the heart of the local community, so this is an issue that transcends football rivalry and we at Chelsea are happy to do anything we can to help our fellow football supporters at Coventry promote and publicise their plight.
"With the supporters of a top Premier League club publicly backing their campaign, we hope that we can add some weight to it and also to encourage the wider football community to support them."