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Ricoh Arena set for tenant team return

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League One side Coventry City are to return to the Ricoh Arena after agreeing a two-year deal with Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), the company that runs the stadium. Coventry City sold its old stadium to play at Ricoh Arena, only to find the annual rent too expensive a few years in. It played in nearby Northampton in the 2013-14 season after the two parties couldn’t negotiate a new deal. The stalemate has now been resolved. The agreement can be extended until 2018, with the first game set to be against Gillingham on 5 September.

The chairman of ACL Chris Robinson said:

ACL are pleased to announce the return of the Sky Blues to the Ricoh Arena. Discussions that have taken place over the last month with Steve Waggott, Development Director from CCFC, have been conducted with great spirit and a real sense of commitment, to secure the return of the club to the city. This is great news for the fans that have been waiting for their club to return to the Ricoh Arena.

Ricoh Arena offers olive branch to previous tenant

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Ricoh Arena management company Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) has offered Coventry City FC the opportunity to play at the stadium rent free next season. ACL, which runs the stadium on behalf of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council, has been involved in a lengthy rent row which has been ongoing for around 16 months.

Coventry City, under hedge fund owners Sisu, in March placed a non-operating subsidiary, Coventry City Football Club Ltd (CCFC Ltd), into administration, although Coventry City Football Club (Holdings) continues to operate.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Holdings Chief Executive Tim Fisher revealed plans to move into a new stadium having claimed City had been given no choice but to leave the Ricoh Arena, with a proposal to groundshare on an interim basis for three years while it is being built. But ACL have offered a proposed solution and paved the way for possible negotiations to reopen having offered CCFC Ltd the chance to play at the Ricoh Arena next term rent free – with fees such as stewarding and policing etc passed on at face value.

An ACL statement read:

To enable the football club to fulfil its commitments under Football League regulations, and to provide stability whilst Coventry City Football Club Limited, which owns the League Share, remains in administration, ACL has agreed to allow the club to play its homes games free of any rental fee, therefore removing any need for the supporters to travel outside the city to watch home games

All charges incurred on matchday as a consequence of staging a football match will be passed through at cost, for example, stewarding, policing, utilities, frost protection, matchday repairs to stadium, health safety and compliance management and certification, service charges for maintenance contracts e.g. flood lights, generators etc.

The directors of ACL hope the supporters of Coventry City Football Club, the joint administrators and the Football League will view this as a positive and productive move and should assist in dispelling the uncertainty and upset of the past weeks.

Fisher’s plans to groundshare, and those regarding a new stadium, cannot be announced until CCFC Ltd comes out of administration – sparking fears over where City could be playing next season. Joint-administrator Paul Appleton has received a number of offers to purchase the club’s assets.