The operating companies that own the Coventry Building Society Arena have applied to go into administration.
Arena Coventry Ltd, and backers IEC Experience Ltd, have been forced into the move after failing to find the funds to keep them running the venue.
The decision was forced somewhat when one of the stadium’s co-owners, rugby union side Wasps, also fell into administration back in October – they were duly suspended from the Guinness Premiership, and a major revenue stream for the arena was removed.
It leaves Coventry City, the other tenant of the 32,000 capacity ground, in limbo, with reports that they will now be ‘locked out’ of their home stadium until a solution can be found.
But there could be an unlikely saviour on the horizon, in the form of former Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct supremo Mike Ashley.
According to local newspaper The Coventry Telegraph, Ashley has apparently thrown his hat into the ring to purchase the venue, which has also hosted live music events and rugby games as part of the summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Reports, emanating from a tweet from, of all people, former Sky Sports host Richard Keys, suggest that Ashley has been installed as the preferred bidder for the CBS Arena, and he will be handed first refusal by the administrator to lodge a bid for the 17-year-old stadium.
Welcome to Coventry Mike. I’m hearing that Mike Ashley will shortly be named as the preferred bidder for the CBS Arena. Give it 24/48 hours. He’s not interested in Wasps or the football club. Let’s hope he changes his mind on the latter. ????.
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) November 1, 2022
It has been reported that Ashley has no interest in acquiring either Coventry City or Wasps, although he has been close to a return to football club ownership following his cat-and-mouse negotiations with Derby County in 2021.
A press statement from Arena Coventry Ltd (ACL) read:
“The companies and the proposed administrators from FRP Advisory have run an accelerated sales process to sell the business and assets of the companies and have identified a preferred bidder.”
Home Sweet Home
The good news for Coventry City fans is that the ACL representative believes that business will continue as normal at the CBS Arena – allowing them to catch up on the home games they were forced to postpone at the start of the season due to the state of the playing surface.
“The Arena will continue to trade as normal,” the spokesperson said.
“We would like to thank all the working parties involved in helping the companies get to this stage, and we are delighted that the doors will remain open to this flagship venue.”
If the worst does happen and no buyer for the venue is found, the EFL have said that a temporary move away from the CBS Arena would be sanctioned for the club, and that could involve a short-term ground share with Walsall at the Bescot Stadium.
Meanwhile, the Derby Telegraph is now reporting that Ashley HAS held talks over a buyout of Wasps, although it’s thought that a consortium involving former Wasps legends is closest to completing a takeover.