Sky Blues and Ricoh bosses clash over £1m rent claims

By Steve Carpenter Thursday 29 November 2012 Updated: 30/11 10:28

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Buy photos » The Ricoh Arena is currently part-owned by Coventry Council and the Alan Higgs Charity. Photo by Jon Mullis 21.09.055.cov.jm4

THE company which runs the Ricoh Arena insists it is ‘strong and healthy’ amid claims it is suffering its own financial problems.

It is the latest twist in its long running row with cash strapped Coventry City Football Club over unpaid rent.

The club has been involved in a row over its £100,000 a month rent which it stopped paying in March in an attempt to renegotiate it with relegation looming.

Stadium bosses say the unpaid figure now amounts to £1million.

A statement issued by the club on Monday read: “The club continues to pay match day costs, previously included within the rent, in full on a match-by-match basis to ACL.

“On a full-year basis, this will exceed more than £200,00- or double what a typical League One club pays in rent.

“We appreciate that ACL’s financial position must be particularly fragile at the moment, especially given its very high debt levels, the recent withdrawal of multiple stand sponsorships and the upcoming drop in naming rights revenue.

“However, the club remains committed to continuing our negotiations to put things on a normalised financial and business footing. SISU continue to fund the club whilst these negotiations progress.”

ACL are understood to owe Yorkshire Bank more than £15million.

Its board met yesterday to discuss the current non-payment of rent but have not commented on whether they have called in external accountants to restructure their debt.

A spokesman added: “The situation remains that, as of December 1 more than £1million in outstanding rent will be owed.

“As we have stated, we have been patiently discussing this issue for nine months but when rent began to be withheld, ACL began to charge matchday costs to cover staffing and overheads for each match.

“ACL’s business is strong and healthy and we look forward to the future with confidence. Instead of peddling absurd speculation, CCFC needs to focus on a plan to safeguard its future - a future that lies entirely in its hands and in those of its wealthy owners.”

A Yorkshire Bank spokeswoman declined to comment on ACL.

The Observer also understands negotiations between the club’s chief executive Tim Fisher and the Alan Edward Higgs Charity over its 50 per cent share in the stadium have also been halted.

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Tim Fisher has told the Observer talks between the Sky Blues and ACL have stalled. (s)

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