On Thursday representatives of the Sky Blue Trust held highly productive, open and informative talks with Nick Eastwood, the Chief Executive of Wasps. Wasps are now owners of 50% of Ricoh leaseholders ACL and hope to shortly complete a deal for the remaining shares currently owned by the Alan Edward Higgs charity. A wide range of topics were discussed, the Trust listened to the plans for the Arena and ACL’s prospective relationships with CCFC and CRFC with interest and quizzed him about some of the issues that our members had highlighted as concerns. Nick pointed out that they had already begun talks with both clubs and wanted to build good, long term and mutually beneficial relationships with both. He said they hoped to have CCFC at the Ricoh on a long term basis and well beyond the current 2+2 year deal that was currently in place and would be honoured. He said he viewed their prospective relationship more as a partnership rather than simply landlord and tenant, a successful Sky Blues was as important to them as to all of us.
When asked about the pitch Nick said that they expected there to be no problems with the playing surface as it was always designed for multi-purpose use and with the football club having primacy the football would take place before the rugby, with CCFC playing on Saturdays and Wasps the following day. In the unlikely event that it should prove to be problematic and if there was a commitment from the football club that they were staying long term then ACL would look at the feasibility of a new playing surface. On the subject of the seats staying Sky Blue he said there were no plans to change this. They wanted this to remain the home of the football club, notwithstanding the estimated cost of replacing the seats would be in the region of £500k, money that could be invested much more usefully elsewhere at the Ricoh.
Nick stated several times that he and ACL wished to work with CCFC and the fans to improve the match day experience and was more than happy to work with the Trust on this. Overall it was a very encouraging meeting and hopefully CCFC can form a good working relationship with the new owners of ACL and ensure a bright, successful, long term future for the Sky Blues at the Ricoh Arena.
Coventry City FC and the Fans as represented by the SBT, CCLSC, SCG and CCFC
Former Player Association are coming together to express our joint concerns
about the change of ownership at the Ricoh Arena. The Football Club, its
manager, playing and coaching staff and our fans are united in our genuine
concerns. We request that no final decision is taken to proceed with the
transaction at the City Council meeting this afternoon. We ask that a formal
consultation process be carried out between the Council and our
organisations, in which as much non-commercially sensitive information as
possible can be shared with us, so that we can each form a view on the
proposals and then set out our views. The Council will then be able to
proceed to a final decision with the benefit of knowledge of the impact the
decision will have upon each of us. If a final decision is taken before
then, the Council runs the risk of causing unforeseen, adverse consequences
for some or all of us.
Due to a lack of information and consultation we do not know yet whether
this deal will have a negative or positive effect either in the short or
long term and we cannot comment on any possible deal between Coventry City
Council and Wasps RFC. The council has the power to choose its own
commercial partners. However no-one has sought our views on this potential
move. However, we are all deeply concerned that Coventry City Council have
not sought the views of Coventry City FC, the manager, the players or the
coaching staff. They have not sought the views of the club’s owners Sisu
Capital. They have not sought the views of the fans’ representative
organisations such as the Sky Blues Trust, Coventry City London Supporters
Club and Supporters Consultative Group or the Former Player Association.
And, we understand, they have not sought the views of Coventry Rugby Club.
All of whom are stakeholders in the future of sport in this great city.
We are not demanding a no vote, we are simply asking that councillors slow
down the indecent haste which it appears this deal is being forced through
and allow each of us time to consult with both the City Council and Wasps
before any irreversible decision is taken. We ask councillors to take into
account the wishes of the city’s two major sporting entities and their
supporters and delay any decision until this consultation process is
completed. We are neither supporting nor decrying any deal but we need to
know more about its potential impact and ask councillors grant us this
In summary, we have been left in the dark about what has been going on. We
would prefer to be part of any decision, fully informed and actively
involved in plans affecting us all. Both sporting clubs and their supporters
have been through many ups and downs over the past decade and it is in the
gift of the City’s councillors to put them at the heart of any decision
making process and not simply to view them as collateral damage.