Coventry City and the Ricoh Arena What we know so far and indemnity clause clarification
The Sky Blues have spent half a season at St Andrew's but will they be back in the city of Coventry any time soon?
Rumours abound that Coventry City will be back at the Ricoh Arena before the season is out.
The latest word on the grapevine was that
they’d be back for MK Dons, failing that the end of the month or Legends’ Day which is usually held in March.
But Mark Robins’ men will not be running out at the Ricoh this weekend nor, judging by all official comments and off-the-record briefings, any time soon.
What we know so far about the current state of play?
It’s fair to say the silence is deafening when it comes to the very emotive subject of a return to Coventry. Having asked both Wasps and Coventry
City for updates on the state of play, the resounding response has been that nothing has changed since the summer when the two parties failed to agree terms to continue playing at the stadium, and City packed up and shipped out to St Andrew’s. For the record, neither side currently wish
to comment and will not discuss any finer details due to having signed an NDA (non- disclosure agreement).
Coventry City Former Players’ Association currently have no plans
Legends’ Day rumours addressed: in
place for a
Legends’ Day this season. There had been a strong rumour that the
club hoped to be back by then but, as it stands, that is not the case and the CCFPA are not currently planning to organise the event at St Andrew’s for a number of reasons, not least that a considerable number of members are unhappy about the groundshare move.
What’s been said in the past:
Wasps’ deputy chairman Nick Eastwood spoke to the BBC before Christmas, reiterating the rugby club’s stance that the
Sky Blues belonged in Coventry and said the door was open for a Ricoh return - if the football club dropped its legal action over the sale of the stadium - saying ‘they should be playing here’. His comments, which were part of a wider
interview with Midlands Today, did not go down well with the football club’s hierarchy and owners, Sisu, who felt it was “unhelpful”. It’s fair to say the communication at the highest level between the two owners, Wasps’ Derek Richardson and Sisu’s Joy Seppala, and their respective legal teams, remains strained. Meanwhile, the day-to-day relationship on
the ground at an operational level between City’s chief executive Dave Boddy and Wasps’ CEOs Stuart
Cain, whose remit
is the ‘venue’ and Stephen Vaughan, who oversees the ‘sports’ side of the business, is cordial. The respective club chiefs get on well, speak on a regular basis and Stuart Cain has even been a guest of the football club at a match at St Andrew’s in recent months. City’s CEO gave the fans’ group Coventry City Supporters Forum an update on a possible return to the Ricoh in December, insisting that it is still the club’s intention to return to the city as soon as possible.
Sisu’s long-term plan and Coventry City Council’s involvement
It was revealed in September that Sisu had re-engaged
land experts after rekindling
their ambitions to develop their own stadium, having identified several possible sites which were being whittled down to a shortlist. Crucially, it emerged that Coventry City Council have assisted Sisu’s land agents in identifying suitable sites, and Boddy confirmed that the list includes two suggestions from the local authorities’ team of senior planning and development officers
who have had no involvement in the ongoing litigation.
What Wasps said about the new stadium plans
CoventryLive contacted Wasps after the
details emerged to ask if they wanted to comment on the news that new sites were being looked at, to which the rugby club declined. Asked, however, if there were any ongoing talks between Wasps and Coventry City and/or their owners, Wasps responded: “There remains an ongoing relationship but there are no specific talks beyond that.” Asked what are the current barriers to an
agreement being made between Wasps and Coventry City, the rugby club said: “As the club know, there has to be a ceasing of any legal action or proceedings before we can enter negotiations.”
CoventryLive sought further clarification this week on Wasps’ stance regarding their terms for a Coventry City return to the Ricoh, in particular the issue of a so-called ‘indemnity clause’ which has been the source of some confusion.
No official comment has been made but
we understand that nothing has changed regarding the conditions for a return, and that an indemnity clause does exist and is seen as the stumbling block between the two parties.
Sisu signed an agreement last Spring not to
pursue legal action against Wasps regarding the sale and lease of the stadium to pave the way for talks to go ahead to agree a new deal to stay at the Ricoh. But Wasps are understood to have insisted they go a step further by agreeing to an indemnity clause which proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back and some- thing the hedge fund owners refuse to sign.
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