Coventry City Football Club can confirm that it will groundshare at Birmingham City’s St Andrew's Trillion Trophy Stadium for the 2020/21 season.
The Club, and also our Owner, have been clear in our desire to return to Coventry as soon as possible and we entered into negotiations with Wasps Rugby Club, landlords at the Ricoh Arena since they moved to Coventry in 2014, in the Winter in good faith and hopeful of a viable and realistic deal which ultimately would benefit both Clubs and the wider community.
Wasps said publicly following our promotion to the Championship that they “would like to see the Club playing in its home city at the Ricoh Arena” and that they “believe that should be the ambition of all concerned, in the bounds of reasonable commercial terms and conditions.”
However following months of negotiations and despite being very close to agreeing commercial conditions, the same issues that prevented a deal last season have again prevented a deal for the upcoming season.
Unfortunately we are unable to disclose full details due to the requirement to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to negotiations taking place.
Last year the critical issue was Wasps’ insistence of indemnity clauses into the license agreement, with this indemnity for themselves and for a third-party.
Coventry City and its Owners last year, during failed talks for the 2019-20 season, made a written undertaking to irrevocably cease all proceedings against Wasps relating to the sale and lease of the Ricoh Arena. No legal action against Wasps or its Owners exists, and Coventry City and its Owners have again made this same undertaking this year.
Despite this undertaking, the clauses introduced by Wasps, for themselves and for a third-party, then added conditions that would unreasonably restrict the Club and SISU’s basic legal rights and would commit the Club and SISU to underwrite Wasps’ and that third-party’s costs and all future damages. This would put the Football Club at substantial risk and jeopardise its very future.
As last year, what the landlord requested of CCFC’s owners and the Club was simply not deliverable. It can again be argued that the landlord was fully aware of this.
We would like to thank those individuals involved in the process of helping to bring the parties together. We regret that their efforts and ours did not come to fruition.
We would again like to thank the EFL for their understanding, help and patience with this matter, and extending Monday’s deadline until today to try to help us resolve the issues.
We would like to thank Birmingham City and their staff for their continued support in this situation. They were excellent to us last season, and we have no doubt that they will continue to be. We of course do not want to be there but have been forced again to take this action to ensure fixtures next season can be fulfilled.
We completely understand the feeling of fans regarding groundshare and playing in Birmingham – we have made every effort behind the scenes to avoid this scenario, but now this is the case we will again be making the best of this situation for our fans, players, staff and everyone connected with the Club, and urge fans to again back Mark Robins and the team next season back in the Championship.
Details regarding 2020/21 Season Tickets and other arrangements will be confirmed shortly.
Going forward, it is vital that Coventry City Football Club returns to Coventry as soon as is possible.
As announced earlier this week, Coventry City and the University of Warwick are progressing with plans to develop a new stadium on land on the main campus of the University, with easy access for fans living in the City of Coventry. The Club will own and be entirely responsible for the cost of the stadium and its operation; equally, the Club will receive all stadium revenues it generates. Importantly, it will be a stadium that the Football Club and its fans can call home.
Whilst we all wanted to play back in Coventry at the Ricoh Arena in this interim period while the stadium is developed, we will look ahead with excitement for this vital project for the Football Club.
Having celebrated the League One title and promotion, we now look ahead to next season – we want to build a strong team in the Championship and support Mark Robins and his team in realising their goals in the campaign ahead, and whilst we know our fans will be disappointed at today’s news, they will see the progress being made throughout the Club.