Good For Coventry But Not For The Sky Blues

10 August 2012 12:15
A CNS Comment

As the City of Coventry Stadium staged its twelfth and final game in the London 2012 Olympics, the row between stadium owners Arena Coventry Limited and Coventry City FC over unpaid rent stepped up a notch with threats of legal action.

Coventry had been crying out for years for a decent stadium, capable of holding big events and since it opened in 2005, the Ricoh Arena has been good for the City of Coventry with concerts, rugby matches, U21 football matches and now Olympic football matches all helping to spread the name of Coventry around the world and bring revenue and trade into the city.

Of that, there is no doubt. However, for Coventry City FC, it has been a different matter. The days of the “Build it and they will come” roadshow in Milton Keynes which so interested the likes of Michael McGinnity and Graham Hover were just a very distant memory by the time the stadium actually opened and for Coventry City as a then Championship club, the ship new ground – new earnings had long since sailed away.

Had the stadium opened in say 1995 when the Sky Blues were firm members of the Premier League and we had the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool etc to pack out the away end, then Coventry’s predicament would not have been as bad as it was, when around nine years later, it was forced to sell its share in the Ricoh Arena to the Higgs Trust and pay rent.

When City moved into the Ricoh Arena, after those with very personal agendas had done what they wanted with the land donated to the people of Coventry by Lord Kenilworth that housed the stadium we all knew and loved as Highfield Road, thus preventing any Coventry based team from having a decent playing venue, which was the plan of some in this city, they did so with very limited income streams.

They did not get some of the monies they had relied on at Highfield Road and it was no wonder that when the crowds dropped off, City headed for administration twice, only to be bailed out at the eleventh hour.

Being at the Ricoh Arena has contributed to the club’s downfall and its place in League One. Not due to the rent which was agreed by Paul Fletcher, after ACL had already let the club drop its rent for a while, but to its income streams which remain limited to this day, which have seen the owners having to put more money into paying bills and not being able to buy the quality players that we all know have been needed.

Tim Fisher has said that he hopes an amicable decision will soon be reached that will benefit both the club and ACL but unless the club can be given cuts of the monies from car parking on a matchday and other incomes generated by us, the supporters actually being at the Ricoh Arena, then City who have lost £5m due to relegation will continue to be a burden for the owners and a problem for the landlords and threats of legal action will be the norm rather than headline news.


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