Coventry City Football Club Owners SISU have this evening made a statement following Coventry City Council media comments earlier this week.
The statement made by SISU is published in full below:
SISU notes the recent private briefing given by Councillor Duggins to selected media representatives.
Once again Councillor Duggins has made statements that are misleading. We set out below our corrective of what he has said:
- The Woodlands site was originally suggested to us for CCFC’s Academy when it was being displaced from the Higgs Centre to make way for Wasps’ new training facility.
When Wasps failed to progress their plans and the Academy was able to stay, we identified Woodlands as a potential stadium site for CCFC instead.
- The mediation discussions in March 2018 focussed on the development of a stadium at the Woodlands site as a possible solution to the Club's home venue. Those discussions continued after the mediation. This is why it has not gone through the usual site selection methods.
- We have repeatedly asked the Council if there are any other suitable sites for a stadium; none has been suggested. We are not aware of any.
- Invariably, a development of this size and nature will have issues to overcome, hence our engagement of professional property and architectural advisors with significant experience in planning, development, and building sports stadiums.
- Our discussions with the Council since March 2018 have been focused on two key aspects:
- in the Council's capacity as landowner, to understand if the site was available for a long leasehold, and
- in the Council's capacity as planning authority, to work with the Council to create a suitable planning application.
- The Council has to date provided no indication as to whether it is willing to enter into a long leasehold agreement with us. This is crucial; there is no point progressing a planning application if there is no agreement in place for its sale should planning be permitted.
- To avert the Council's evident (but inexplicable) historic animosity towards SISU and CCFC, our advisors liaised with the Council to advance discussions on agreeing a leasehold agreement for the site, and to provide us with planning expertise and advice for this specific site.
- The property advisors and architects prepared 4 separate concept plans; 2 before the Council launched their consultation on education restructuring and 2 more recently integrating education on the site, the latter 2 having been submitted and discussed at a recent meeting. To prepare these required lots of preparatory work with our consultants.
- We have attempted to work with the Council in order to integrate their educational aspirations on the site. Indeed several other stadiums have done this successfully: Saracens’ new West Stand will include space for Middlesex University; the new Bristol City stadium includes some purpose built classrooms; and Brentford Community Stadium’s plans include education space.
- It will not however be possible for us to make any more progress with these proposals unless the Council works with us to achieve the desired outcome.
Why is the Council so keen to discredit our proposal, when a stadium development of the kind we have proposed would be economically beneficial to the area, to the community, and would give CCFC a long term and financially secure playing future in Coventry?
Why can a group of high level officers and elected members manage to meet on less than a day’s notice with selected media representatives; yet it takes months for them to meet with our advisors to review the plans with the aim of developing a full planning application?
Councillor Duggins has refused to even meet with CCFC since December 2018, despite repeated requests to do so.
City of Sport 2019
Councillor Duggins rightly makes much of Coventry's selection as European City of Sport. He does not however mention that CCFC were specifically disinvited from the Civic Launch. Why go to such lengths to exclude the city's famous and high profile football club?