Coventry to return to Ricoh

Coventry City have agreed a two-year deal to return to the Ricoh Arena.

Last Updated: 22/08/14 at 08:05 Post Comment

The Ricoh Arena: Coventry are set to return home

The Ricoh Arena: Coventry are set to return home

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The deal, which includes an option for a further two years, will see City back at their old home in time for the game against Gillingham on Friday, September 5 (7.45pm) which is live on Sky Sports.

Coventry have spent the last year playing at Sixfields, the home of Northampton Town, who will be due compensation for the early end of what was a three-year groundshare deal.

The deal between ACL, operators of the Ricoh Arena, and club owners Sisu comes after a bitter dispute which began in April 2012 when the Sky Blues began withholding rent from the stadium operators - the fall-out eventually ended with them leaving for Northampton.

Steve Waggott, development director at Coventry City FC, said: “We are delighted to get this deal done and I am sure every supporter of Coventry City will be thrilled with this news.

“We are under no illusion what a difficult 12 months it has been for the supporters and that was uppermost in our thinking as we worked to get this deal done.

“There has had to be compromise on both sides and the commercial details of the deal will remain confidential.

“Now it is all about looking forward to a really exciting season back in the community and with a real chance of success. I am sure every supporter will want to give Steven Pressley, his staff and players their full backing for the season at the Ricoh. 

“Logistically, it’s going to mean a huge amount of work between now and the first game back and we would ask supporters to bear with us as all of our efforts up to now have been in getting this deal over the line to get us back to Coventry as soon as possible.

“We will announce details around tickets, Season Tickets and other information as soon as we can next week but we hope to be back at the Ricoh for the clash with Gillingham. We will keep supporters fully informed of progress to that aim.

“Can I also take this opportunity of thanking Chris Robinson, Chair of ACL, for the professional manner he has conducted our lengthy discussions to reach this agreement.”

Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey welcomed the news, adding: “Getting the two parties to this point has taken a significant amount of work over a lengthy period of time by everyone involved in this process. However, the majority of the credit should go to Coventry City and ACL, who have now agreed a mutually acceptable way forward.

“When the Football League board gave its consent to Coventry City playing its matches in Northampton, it did so with this outcome in mind. 

"It ensured that the club could continue to fulfil its fixtures, and thereby remain in the Football League, while all parties focussed on resolving this complex commercial dispute. 

"While we understand that the board’s decision led to a significant amount of dissatisfaction amongst Coventry supporters, we would not be where we are today without it.  On this basis alone, this very difficult decision has now been justified.

“I hope today is viewed as a new beginning for all the parties and that Sky Blues supporters can transfer the passion and energy they have put into their campaigning back into watching their club play in Coventry.

"While we understand that the board’s decision led to a significant amount of dissatisfaction amongst Coventry supporters, we would not be where we are today without it.  On this basis alone, this very difficult decision has now been justified.

“I hope today is viewed as a new beginning for all the parties and that Sky Blues supporters can transfer the passion and energy they have put into their campaigning back into watching their club play in Coventry.”

Coventry fans have welcomed the Sky Blues' imminent return to the Ricoh Arena and urged supporters to unite behind the club.

The Sky Blue Trust called the move a "victory for common sense" after the club agreed a two-year deal, with the option of a further two, with ground owners Arena Coventry Limited (ACL).

"The situation of playing 'home' matches 35 miles from Coventry, in front of minute crowds, was untenable, heart breaking and divisive," read a Sky Blue Trust statement.

"This decision is a clear victory for common sense and fan power - the fans, when united, can be a major force in influencing events and decisions, we should never underestimate that power.

"We congratulate both sides on their hard work in getting a deal done but most of all we thank all those who have supported the Sky Blue Trust's efforts in helping to get the situation resolved.

"Now it is time for all fans to unite once more but this time behind Steven Pressley and the team at The Ricoh. We must now throw our efforts into cheering on the team and getting us out of this division and most importantly cheering
the team on in Coventry."

Watch Coventry's return to the Ricoh Arena against Gillingham live on Sky Sports from 7.30pm on Friday, September 5

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