The Football League have today admitted “serious errors” were made in the administration process of Coventry City Football Club.
The errors relate to The Football League making mistakes in registering players to the wrong company, as revealed by The Coventry Telegraph.
Today, is the first time The Football League have publicly admitted mistakes had been made during the administration process – saying that they made an ‘administrative oversight’ in registering players to Coventry City Football Club (Holdings) Ltd.
They have also stated that the players should have been registered with Coventry City Football Club Limited – the subsidiary of the club now in administration, because that is the company which held the Football League’s ‘Golden Share’ – enabling them to participate in the competition.
The Football League have also claimed the same mistakes have been made by The Football Association.
Part-Coventry City Council-owned Ricoh firm Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) has insisted, ever since it filed for CCFC Ltd’s administration in March, that all the playing assets should have been in one company, CCFC Ltd.
The Football League, after admitting it’s mistakes to The Coventry Telegraph, stated that they have put “administrative oversights” in place, to ensure they are not repeated.
The League did stop short however of confirming whether all, or only some of Coventry City Football Club’s players were registered with the wrong company with their ‘player registration department’ and The FA. The League also refused to comment when exactly the crucial mistakes were made.
The Football League have confirmed that they will be writing to Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and state that overtime the business model at Coventry City Football Club have become overly complicated and it was during that period mistakes were made.
The Football League confirmed to the Coventry Telegraph they first learned of the mistakes in March, following their initial investigations and have since carried out an ‘audit’ of all other 71 League Clubs – finding no other business model similar to that at The Sky Blues.
The League claims the errors did not breach its rules and regulations, claiming assets can straddle two companies – but it accepts it was not “ideal” and “should not have happened”.
The League has waited until now,however to publicly admit the mistakes.
It comes after the Football League on August 2 transferred the golden share – which had been suspended since March’s administration – to Sisu company Otium Entertainment Group Limited.
By then, Otium had been selected by administrator Paul Appleton as the buyer of minor assets in CCFC Ltd for £1.5million – which crucially excluded the sale of staff and players’ contracts held by Sisu company CCFC Holdings Ltd.
Other bidders and potential bidders who had hoped to take over the Sky Blues, such as Preston Haskell IV and Michael Byng have told the Coventry Telegraph that the sale was stacked in favour of Sisu-related companies as the major creditors – because they were not able to bid for the whole club.
In response to The Football League’s admission, ACL have released a statement on the situation:
“The Football League’s admission that it has made serious errors in the administration of Coventry City Football Club is a crucial development in this saga.
“That is what all the publicly available documentation makes clear – from the 2008 board minutes that recently came to light right through to the last set of filed accounts in 2012. It is also what the Football League’s own regulations say should be the case.
“It is therefore deeply disappointing that they have waited until now – with the administration process almost over – to make this admission.
“But fortunately there is still time to resolve this matter. The joint administrators have not yet liquidated the club so there is still time for a proper administration process to be run – one based on all the facts – that provides a fair outcome for creditors, for prospective purchasers of the club, and most of all for Sky Blues fans themselves.”
In response to the Coventry Telegraph’s story, ACL also said today it was renewing its call on the League to refer to the FA ACL’s complaint about the club groundsharing at Northampton Town – under regulation 79 of the League’s regulations.
FULL COVENTRY CITY FOOTBALL CLUB STATEMENT:
“As the club has consistently maintained, the players contracts have been registered by CCFC (Holdings) Ltd and registered by the Football League in the name of Holdings for over 10 years – way before Sisu took over the club.
Today’s admission by the Football League confirms that.
Despite claims to the contrary, it should also come as no surprise to many of those who have been involved for many years at a senior level at the club and ACL – including former directors and a finance director – that this was the case.
The reason given for refusing the CVA and penalising the club by a further 10 points was their stated aim to undertake an investigation into that which they already knew the answer.
To be clear, players have been contracted to CCFC (Holdings) Ltd and registered as such by the Football League since well before Sisu’s takeover when the club was relegated from the Premier League.
The mistake if there was one, was not that the players’ contracts should have been registered in the name of CCFC Ltd, but that the Golden Share should have been registered in Holdings, which owned the beneficial interest in the club.
At least now, with this out in the open and with the club reconstituted, we can get on with the business of running the football club and giving our full support to Steven Pressley and the team.
We would now suggest the City Council and ACL drop their efforts to force a change of ownership of the club – conduct which is now subject to oral argument in the request for judicial review.”