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Football League approve Northampton Town & Coventry City groundshare.

SixfieldsThe Football League have approved Coventry City’s plans to groundshare at Sixfields; the home of Northampton Town Football Club for the next three seasons.

City have been in administration since March, after a year-long dispute with the manager’s of The Ricoh Arena; ACL.

Chief Executive of Coventry City, Tim Fisher has previously stated that the  club intend to build their own stadium in the Coventry area, despite an offer to play at The Ricoh rent free should the club still be in administration at the start of the new season, by ACL.

The move to Sixfields comes despite numerous protests by fans, including outside SISU’s offices, the unveiling of a statue of Joy Seppala and at Glastonbury music festival.

Tim Fisher said, “We are very pleased that the Football League has found our plans acceptable. Nobody wanted this day to come but we feel we have no choice but to take this course of action and that the only credible future for the Club now lies in owning its own stadium. Building a stadium that is ours in the Coventry area and which will generate revenues we can put on the field of play is necessary to ensure the club can succeed under the FIFA Fair Play Rules.

“If there had been an economic option which would have allowed us to stay at the Ricoh we would have pursued it. There was no proposal on the table in time for us to make realistic plans for the coming season. We could not wait any longer.”

“Over the last month or so – through a series of forums – we have made it clear this move is not a game of brinkmanship or a negotiating strategy – it is the only credible option.  If our plans did not show a clear path for returning to the Coventry City area they would not have been approved by the League.

“The Club and its owners acknowledge the support of the League, Northampton Town FC and the Northampton Borough Council for working constructively to provide a port in what is hoped will be a temporary storm.  We are currently working on detailed ticketing and travel plans to take into account the inconvenience caused to supporters by this move and will provide further information very shortly.

“If the City Council and ACL had truly wanted to support the Club, it would have taken up the offer made by SISU to pay off its debt and extend the lease. Instead it used £14 million of public money to stop the deal happening.  The suggestion that the Club could play “free” whilst “it is administration” was, as the administrators pointed out, not one which they or indeed the Club could accept or which had any value.

“The proposed new stadium makes commercial and economic sense, providing new prospects to the City, incorporating commercial opportunities that support the revenues and development of the Club and secures its future.  The project has momentum and the negotiations with the site’s vendors are progressing very well.

“We have much to do before the new season, including working with the League to approve the restructuring of the corporate ownership of the club and the swift resolution of the administration of CCFC Ltd which will see the transfer embargo lifted.  We hope that the fans will support the Club’s players and staff through what, we accept, will be a difficult transitional period, towards independence and a stable long term home venue.”

FULL FOOTBALL LEAGUE STATEMENT:

The Board of Directors of The Football League has reluctantly approved an application by Otium Entertainment Group – the Administrator’s preferred bidder for Coventry City FC Limited – for Coventry City to play its home matches at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium for an initial period of three seasons.

In the Board’s view, it was a matter of “deep regret” that it had not proved possible for the club’s proposed purchaser to reconcile its differences with the owners of the Ricoh Arena – Arena Coventry Limited (ACL).  However, with the new season less than four weeks away, the Board required certainty as to where the Club would play its matches from the start of the new campaign.

Nevertheless, the Board’s approval remains entirely conditional on the Club ultimately exiting administration in accordance with The Football League’s conditions and achieving a successful transfer of its League share.

Otium will also be required to provide a Performance Bond of £1m with The Football League as an assurance of the club’s commitment to return to the Coventry area.

Football League Chairman, Greg Clarke, said: “The Football League believes that clubs should play in the towns and cities from which they take their name. Nonetheless, from time to time, the Board is asked to consider temporary relocations as a means for securing a club’s ongoing participation in our competition.

“With no prospect of an agreement being reached between Otium and ACL, the Board was placed in an unenviable position – with the very real possibility of Coventry City being unable to fulfil its fixtures for next season.  This would inevitably call into question the Club’s continued membership of The Football League.

“The Board did not take this decision lightly and it remains a matter of deep regret that the two parties involved cannot come to an agreement.  I urge both Otium and ACL to continue to explore every possible opportunity to resolve this dispute, for the good of the City of Coventry, its football club and people living in the local community.”

The Football League will now continue working with the Administrator and Otium to achieve an exit from Administration in line with the Board’s Insolvency Policy.

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About RNTomlinson

Part-time blogger. Full-time entertainer. Can be found on RNTomlinson.com & ccfctv.co.uk.

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