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Coventry consider groundshare options as Ricoh Arena row continues

Sky Blues owners Sisu has taken its legal complaint over the sale of their home ground to rugby club Wasps to the European Commission.

Coventry insist they remain in talks over a new deal to play at the Ricoh Arena (Nigel French/PA)
Coventry insist they remain in talks over a new deal to play at the Ricoh Arena (Nigel French/PA)

Coventry have been forced to step up their plans to groundshare next season as the saga surrounding their use of the Ricoh Arena rumbles on.

Sky Blues owners Sisu has taken its legal complaint over the sale of their home ground to the rugby club Wasps, in 2014, to the European Commission.

As a result, Wasps said on Wednesday 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.

In a statement on Thursday evening, Coventry said the legal complaint is against Coventry City Council, who sold the stadium, and not against Wasps.

However, the League One club admit they are now “accelerating our back-up groundshare plans”.

The Football League has given the club until May 29 to inform it where they will be playing their home games next season, and has told officials they do not want them to be based any further than six miles from their current home.

Coventry spent the 2013-14 campaign at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium, some 30 miles from the city, an arrangement which prompted many fans to stay away from ‘home’ games.

Two alternatives have been mooted, ground shares with either Birmingham, whose St Andrew’s stadium lies outside the six-mile radius, or Coventry Rugby’s Butts Park, which does not.

Wasps chief executive Nick Eastwood said on Wednesday that the legal action “regrettably means that the condition set out above for us to enter or continue discussions with CCFC has not been met”.

Coventry’s statement read: “The condition referenced yesterday by Nick has not been broken, but instead yet more onerous and undeliverable conditions have been added by Wasps to their pre-existing conditions to enter talks.

“Last Friday in our update to fans, we spoke of ‘hurdles’ and this is one of those hurdles that we alluded to. As a result, we are unfortunately accelerating our back-up groundshare plans.”

The club added that “further details of discussions with Wasps Holdings Limited remain confidential, due to mutually signed confidentiality agreements”.

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