Heir apparent – John Coates standing firmly in the line of family succession at Stoke City



There was a time when the prospect of John Coates becoming the next chairman of Stoke City was far from a given.

Would he be up to it? Would he fancy it? Would the Coates family still be in charge when the time came?

Well, over the past couple of years, and we saw more evidence of it this week, he has answered the first two in the affirmative.

As for the third, that too appears to be a given, we just don’t know when that time will come.

Like Prince Charles, perhaps, he is having to be patient because the present incumbent is still going strong and still up to the task.

The hand over, whenever it does come, should be as smooth as any in football because of the healthy father/son relationship and because the heir apparent is already running much of the show.

Peter has willingly handed over much responsibility to prepare him for office, that was always the long-term plan, but this week we saw further evidence that John will be ready to sit on the throne, not merely be the power behind it.

His leadership, together with his willingness and ability to front up, was evident during Monday’s Fan Forum in the Waddington Suite.

He built on last year’s debut appearance at such an event because this time he was having to answer for the false dawn that was the Nathan Jones experiment.

He held his hands up and took his share of the responsibility for that, together with the poor recruitment which preceded Jones, whilst demonstrating an evident rapport with current manager Michael O’Neill.

The mood of the night was helped by last Saturday’s 5-1 victory, but underlying issues were not ignored by the audience nor ducked by those on stage.

At times like this you look long and hard at the vice chairman to see if he has the stomach for the fight after two/three years that will have hurt him more than most, maybe more than anyone.

Not only does he appear to have the stomach, he even seems re-invigorated by the success, albeit early success, of his present manager.

He seems strengthened, not cowed, by recent criticism, more determined than ever to crack the job of returning Stoke City to the Premier League.

And they are useful qualities for the battle ahead. 





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