Coventry City have confirmed that they will not be returning to The Ricoh Arena, their home since leaving Highfield Road in 2005, for the 2013/2014 npower League One season.
Chief executive Tim Fisher has revealed the club are instead in the process of securing a site in the local area on which to build a new stadium.
Fisher has also revealed that whilst the new ground is being built, the Sky Blues will ground share with another club, with their plans being presented to the Football League in June.
The move comes following a year-long rent row with Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Ricoh Arena on behalf of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council.
Fisher said: “It’s a new era and we retained specialists some months ago to advise us on where to build a new stadium for the club – and in the immediate Coventry area by the way”.
City claim they did not want to leave the Ricoh but they had to make the move because “the doors locked on us”.
In a statement of their own on Thursday, ACL said “our doors remain open to the Sky Blues”.
But asked if there is any chance of Coventry playing at the Ricoh Arena next season, Fisher replied: “None.
“People have to understand we do not posture, we do not threaten, because that is not how you do business, you only do business in good faith. Always.
“We have started the process of procuring land so that we can shift the new stadium build forward at a pace. The stadium will be in the Coventry area in accordance with Football League rules.”
Fisher added: “We have left the Ricoh Arena.
“We were told categorically by ACL and by the council that there was no commercial deal to be done and in actual fact they would only ever work with the administrator.
“We were very, very clear in our minds as to exactly what was intended. Given the position we have had to make contingency plans to fulfil our fixtures on an interim basis – while we deliver the long-term vision.
“That long-term vision has us playing in the Coventry area in a new stadium that will be designed and delivered in three years.
“All this will be in full consultation with the fans – starting with the upcoming forums. In consideration of financial fair play then we will own all the revenue streams that come from matchday and, non-matchday activities, and therefore we will have every chance of becoming a solid, vibrant club.”
Only yesterday, twenty-six years ago to the day that the club won the FA Cup, it was confirmed that Preston Haskell IV had submitted a bid to purchase the club and half of The Ricoh Arena, but with this latest development it would appear that the club’s owners SISU are working around the bid in order to keep control of the club.
Many Sky Blue fans will also be left wondering where the money to build this new stadium will come from, with the club still in administration, with no clear solution in sight.