End the Ricoh rent row, fans urge

By Steve Carpenter Thursday 13 December 2012 Updated: 17/12 10:30

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Prof John Beech said a move to Rushden-based Nene Park was a possible outcome. 51.010.001.cov.jg (www.buyphotos247.com)

SUPPORTERS have called on Coventry City to quickly end their row with ACL - the company that runs the Ricoh Arena - as talks between the two resumed this week.

It is understood the club has rejected stadium bosses offer to repay the £1million it owes over ten years and have its annual rent slashed by almost two thirds to just £400,000.

They have even threatened to look for an alternative place to play and this week withdrew half season tickets deals.

The war of words erupted late last week when the stadium issued a legal demand for the rent the club has refused to pay since March to be paid by Boxing Day or face a winding up order.

Sky Blue Trust spokesman Jan Mokrzycki told The Observer this week: "The latest offer from ACL appears to be very reasonable.

"The prospect either party forcing the other into administration would show a failure by them to take the fans interests into consideration. Either prospect is unacceptable and unnecessary.

"The Sky Blue Trust therefore calls on the club to re-examine the offer and accept it."

Leading city councillor Kevin Foster described the football club's statement it had begun to look at possible new venues to pay read like a “declaration of war.”

And speaking to us this week Professor John Beech, head of sport and tourism applied research at Coventry University, suggested moving to Nene Park, the former home of Rushden & Diamonds, could be a possibility.

But he ruled out some fears any relocation could become permanent as happened when Wimbledon moved to Milton Keynes and became MK Dons in 2004.

"I wasn't surprised to hear that a statutory demand had been granted, but what does surprise me is the club have not been making some sort of token gesture towards the rent," Professor Beech said.

"Nene Park could be a suitable alternative to the Ricoh Arena but whether it has been maintained is another matter and that could be damaging to the club's supporters.”

ACL chief executive Jacky Isaac added: "Everyone here wants to see the Sky Blues continuing at the Ricoh Arena.

“They’ve been part of the fabric of Coventry for over a century and everyone is sensitive to that."

Keep and eye on coventryobserver.co.uk for updates on this story.

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