Sky Blues' quit threat in Ricoh rent row

By Steve Carpenter Wednesday 20 February 2013 Updated: 21/02 11:18

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Buy photos » The Ricoh Arena opened back in 2005. 21.09.055.cov.jm4 (www.buyphotos247.com)

INDEPENDENT mediators could be called in to try to broker a deal between Coventry City and the Ricoh Arena after the club suggested this week it would be prepared to quit the stadium.

The latest round of talks collapsed at the end of last week despite stadium bosses claiming to have struck a deal which they claimed would reduce the rent from £1.2million a year to £400,000.

Both have, however, said this week they are keen to reach an agreement, but appear to be miles apart with Ricoh bosses even attempting to freeze the club's bank accounts in a bid to get its hands on rent the club has not paid for almost a year.

“There's been almost 12 months without any rent. You're in cloud cuckoo land if you think everything is fine,” Nicholas Carter, who is chairman of ACL, the company which runs the Ricoh, told the Observer.

"We'd stabilised the company after the council had bought the debt and re-loaned it back to ACL on better terms therefore securing ACL's future.

“So we were able to go back with an even more generous offer and we are generally taken back and disappointed that it hasn't gone through.

“Having seen all the fans reaction, which are important because they're not just fans but also customers of this business, I can see why they're exasperated too.”

The proposed deal would have reduced the matchday costs paid by the club from £1.2million per year to £150,000 according to ACL.

Sky Blues chief executive Tim Fisher disagrees with this figure but speaking to the Observer this week, he said he wants to get back around the table to find a resolution.

“Although I find it strange that neither Nicholas Carter or Jacky Issac (ACL chief executive) have been at the meetings to date, we want to sit down with them face-to-face to discuss the prospect of mediation.

“In the first instance, I think it important that both Nicholas and Jacky explain where this "rent" figure of 150K has come from.

“I sense they are mixing a 400k rent number with both their Food and Beverage guesstimate and a rates rebate - both of which are completely separate.”

Fisher also said owners Sisu had given serious thought to building its own stadium elsewhere in the city.

“We could then control all of our revenues, just as the club did at Highfield Road, and build a sustainable base for the club to prosper.

“Of course this would involve a full consultation with supporters but this is something we do not want to do even though financially it makes a lot more sense than staying at the Ricoh.”

Asked about the prospect of the Sky Blues relocating, Mr Carter added: “We'd be really disappointed. They are part of the fabric of this building.

“The club are not essential to us, but they are very important. We could survive without them but we don't want the football club to move out.”

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Buy photos» Tim Fisher has hinted that the Sky Blues could move away from the Ricoh Arena. Photo by Jon Mullis (www.buyphotos247.com)

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