Coventry City's recent results have hardly been anything to brag about as their season drew to a close last weekend. The Championship football club have not actually won a match since they beat Leeds United in early April and ended up finishing ninth, missing the Premier League promotion playoffs.

Yet last month the Midlands team managed to achieve something of a rarity in modern times: they united a notoriously fractious footballing community in support of their cup heroics.

Coventry came back from 3-0 down against Manchester United in last month's dramatic FA Cup semi-final to score three goals and take the tie into extra time. The Sky Blues thought they'd won the game when they scored in injury time of extra time only for a contentious VAR decision to rule out the goal for offside. Coventry ended up losing the tie on penalties.

Even many Manchester United fans declared after the game they wished it had been their opponent that had made it to the final.

When Square Mile caught up with Coventry City owner Doug King in the boardroom after their recent game against Hull City, the club's cup heroics were still on his mind.

"It was our second ever FA Cup semi-final and our first one for 37 years and so it was a major milestone because they don't happen very often," he said. "Obviously we were devastated not to be in the final but I thought how we handled ourselves both fan-wise and performance-wise was incredible."

Coventry City's Haji Wright (centre) celebrates after scoring their side's third goal of the game from the penalty spot during the Emirates FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley Stadium.

King is well-versed in managing unpredictability and navigating chaos in his day job as a commodities hedge fund manager: he is chairman of the RCMA Group and CEO of Stratford-upon-Avon based oilseed processing facility Yelo Enterprises.

"For a minute VAR thing to stop an FA Cup once-in-a-generation comeback for a Championship team against a Premier League team was disappointing but in other ways it did us no harm at all," he reflects.

"As well as being an epic moment in time for all of us to experience, it re-established Coventry on the international stage and put us back again for people who remember us from a different era. We now need to re-engage with different commercial partners and drive forward to get the revenue to invest in a better playing squad so that we can try and get out of the Championship."

As well as being an epic moment in time for all of us to experience, it re-established Coventry on the international stage

King only took over Coventry City in January 2023 but his tenureship has already proved eventful. Coventry nearly got out of the Championship a year ago, only for the Sky Blues to lose to Luton Town on penalties in the play-off final. Having been a Premier League mainstay until 2001, the club has endured a turbulent time of late, twice having to seek temporary groundshare homes outside Coventry and being relegated to League Two before securing promotions under manager Mark Robins. "The next level – to get out of the Championship – is very difficult,” King admits. “We got very close last year but to achieve it we have to get everything right."

For all the well-documented struggles promoted teams have in staying up in the top flight, King is confident Coventry can hold their own in the Premier League. "Brentford, Brighton and Crystal Palace have shown it can be done," he says. "This year it isn't happening but I do believe with the stature of the city, the fan base and the club it has the credentials and the history to belong there. But that doesn't mean you get there. For that you need luck and a sound plan."

Unlike many a modern football owner – Coventry City’s former owners Sisu Capital being a notable case in point – King is popular with his club's fanbase. "This [football ownership] attracts recklessness because it has such a great prize at the end of it,” he says. “But I think you have to integrate with the community and be very active in doing interviews and trying to explain what you're doing to the fans and the logic behind it."

King will surely watch Saturday’s FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United wondering what might have been. "It wasn't to be but whether we'd have got stuffed or handled ourselves in the final, it would have been a huge achievement. To go out the way we did was disappointing but it reinforced that the journey we're on has highs, lows, middles and difficulties. The journey is everything and you've got to enjoy it and have a huge amount of fun and experience to get there.

“The semi-final was incredible, the play-off final was incredible and even though the season ebbed away from us, in a few months time it will be a case of here we go again!"

The full Doug King interview will run in the next issue of HEDGE.