Coventry to play ‘home’ matches at Birmingham’s St Andrew’s next season
Coventry have announced they will groundshare at Birmingham’s St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium next season.
The Sky Blues are unable to play at the Ricoh Arena due to a legal dispute between their owners Sisu and Gallagher Premiership rugby club Wasps, who own the stadium.
The English Football League said it had reluctantly agreed to Coventry’s groundshare to ensure the club retained their EFL membership.
“Coventry City Football Club can confirm that it will groundshare at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium for the 2019/20 season,” read a statement on the Sky Blues’ official website.
“The club has delayed any stadium announcement in the hope that a deal could be agreed with Wasps to play at the Ricoh Arena.
“The deadline has passed and unfortunately there has been no agreement. To ensure we fulfil our home fixtures and therefore retain our place in the EFL, CCFC will be groundsharing next season.
“We know full well that this is a very sad day for Coventry City Football Club, the city of Coventry, Coventrians and most importantly Sky Blues supporters.
“We are incredibly disappointed and extremely frustrated that continuing differences between our owners SISU and Wasps, and also Coventry City Council, could not be set aside to allow for a deal to play the club’s home games at the Ricoh Arena.
“The Ricoh Arena is the stadium built to be the football club’s home, and our fans should be able to watch their team play in the city that we are proud to represent.”
Coventry’s owners Sisu has taken its legal complaint over the sale of the Ricoh Arena to Wasps, in 2014, to the European Commission.
As a result, Wasps said last month that they will not enter into talks with Coventry over their continued use of the stadium.
Wasps have always insisted that Sisu, which believes the sale of the stadium was illegal, must drop its challenge in the courts as a precursor to negotiations over a new agreement.
Coventry added: “In order for a deal to be agreed between landlord and tenant, the conditions for the deal need to be deliverable by the tenant.
“What the landlord requested of CCFC’s owners and ultimately, the club, was simply not deliverable. It can be argued that the landlord was fully aware of this.”
The EFL said if Coventry had been unable to fulfil their fixtures, the club’s continued league membership would have been called into question.
“This situation has placed the EFL Board in an unenviable position and as a result, it has reluctantly agreed to a groundshare option at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium for 2019/20,” read an EFL statement.
“This is a decision that has not been taken lightly and it is regrettable that the parties involved have been unable to find a suitable and sensible solution.
“The EFL Board calls on all parties to resolve this matter at the earliest convenience for the benefit of the City of Coventry, the club and people living in the local community.”
The EFL confirmed Coventry had paid a £1million bond and would complete quarterly reviews to keep the governing body updated on developments.
Coventry had also given the EFL an undertaking that their owners Sisu would not apply to permanently relocate the club outside the Coventry area.