The perennially-unfortunate Coventry City could be without a home stadium to call their own once again after Mike Ashley acquired the Ricoh Arena, which is now known as the Coventry Building Society Arena.
Ashley, as head of the Frasers Group, now owns the venue after buying its three former operating companies. Coventry City FC, who have only ever been tenants at the stadium, are now at his mercy.
And it seems unlikely that any mercy will be shown after Ashley served an eviction notice to club officials, claiming they ‘have no continuing right’ to use the stadium under the terms of their current licence.
Frasers took the keys of the arena after buying out Wasps rugby club, who were forced to sell up as part of their ongoing battle with administration. That effectively tore up the tenancy agreement Coventry City had at the stadium, according to Ashley, and leaves them homeless heading into the busy festive period.
A statement from Coventry City reads:
“Following the Frasers Group acquisition of the stadium from administrators, Coventry City have been told that we must agree a new licence to play at the Arena.
“We were surprised to learn of this intention by Frasers Group, given that discussions with Coventry City prior to the completion of their purchase of the Arena led us to understand the existing terms would continue unchanged with Frasers Group as the new owners.”
The existing licence is scheduled to run until 2031, however Frasers will only discuss a deal that runs up until the end of the current football season in May – a revised contract with ‘less favourable’ conditions, according to the football club.
An extension to the current licence could be agreed, with Frasers reportedly amenable to the idea, however Coventry City could be worse off financially as a result.
According to reports, Frasers have already asked all personnel from the football club to return their keys and entry passes.
Baptism of Fire
Imagine being served an eviction notice for the club that you are in the process of buying.
Prospective new Coventry City owner Doug King, who reportedly agreed a deal to buy the club in November, will now have to negotiate with Ashely and his colleagues for access to the CBS Arena.
If they are unable to come to an arrangement, then Coventry once again face the prospect of playing their home games away from the city – they have already ground-shared with Northampton Town and Birmingham City due to the long-standing issues at the venue formerly known as the Ricoh Arena.
King, subject to approval and checks by the EFL, will acquire an 85% share of the Sky Blues, clearing their debts and – according to some media reports – putting together a proposal to buy the CBS Arena outright.
— Sky Blues Extra (@SkyBluesExtra) November 17, 2022
However, that was squashed when the administrators of Wasps installed the Frasers Group as their preferred bidder.