Coventry City: EFL spot 'severely at risk' if ground agreement not reached, says Dave Boddy

Ricoh Arena
Coventry City first moved into the Ricoh Arena in 2005 after leaving their previous home at Highfield Road

Coventry City chief executive Dave Boddy has warned that the League One club's EFL place will be put "severely at risk" if they do not manage to reach an agreement to remain at the Ricoh Arena next season.

The Sky Blues' rental agreement with Wasps, the stadium owners, only lasts until the end of the 2018-19 season.

And City's landlords will not discuss any new deal until the football club's owners, Sisu, end their ongoing legal action against the Premiership rugby union club.

"The English Football League have made very clear in writing to us that a groundshare outside Coventry is not and will not be an option," said Boddy.

"Even if it was, it is not an option we are interested in. We want to stay at the Ricoh Arena."

Writing in his programme notes before Friday's 1-1 draw with Peterborough United, Boddy added: "For the avoidance of doubt to everyone in Coventry and Warwickshire who cares about the football club, failure to reach agreement to play at the Ricoh next season will mean that the club's place in the English Football League is severely at risk.

"We know the value that we bring to the stadium and Wasps, which is a vital part of their revenue streams - not just in terms of the rent but matchday revenue and footfall we bring to the stadium, as well as significant contributions to stadium costs."

How the Sisu saga unfolded

Coventry City have always been tenants at the 32,000-capacity stadium since their old Highfield Road home was sold for development and they moved in at the new stadium on the edge of the city in 2005.

But London-based hedge fund Sisu have been at loggerheads over the rent they have to pay for six and a half years - first with original owners Arena Coventry Ltd, to whom they stopped paying rent in April 2012, and now too with Wasps.

The original rent row - and ensuing legal battles - led them to leave the Ricoh Arena in 2013 to groundshare for 13 months with Northampton Town.

Although the Sky Blues returned to Coventry in September 2014, plans were already under way by then for Wasps to relocate to the city.

Having bought out both co-owners of the stadium, the Alan Higgs Trust and Coventry City Council, Wasps then moved in and played their first game at the Ricoh Arena in December 2014.

In October, the Court of Appeal turned down Sisu's request for a judicial review into the sale of the Ricoh Arena to Wasps in 2014, which had already been rejected at a prior hearing. Sisu claimed Coventry City Council undervalued the stadium by £27m.

A final decision on whether Sisu opt to take that any further is expected next week. But Boddy remains keen to talk to Wasps.

"There unfortunately have been no negotiations to date with Wasps," he said. "But I have met with several Wasps directors who have told me the position of Wasps regarding the court case with the owners. I have made clear that the football club is not involved with the legal proceedings, and our desire to stay at the Ricoh Arena and create a stronger relationship."

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