September 30th, 2016

Sisu boss says Sky Blues had no option but to leave Ricoh

Updated: 4:42 pm, May 07, 2015

THE BOSS of Sky Blues owners Sisu has pointed the finger of blame firmly towards the council following a bitter dispute with Ricoh stadium owners ACL which has left the club playing 35-miles away in Northampton.

A well documented row between the League One club and ACL, which is partly owned by the council and the Alan Higgs Trust, saw the club move out of the Ricoh at the end of last summer.

And since then plans have been forged to build a new home ground in the ‘Coventry area’.

Speaking in Saturday’s matchday programme, Joy Seppala, who wishes to remain out of the public eye, said a groundshare with Northampton Town was the club’s only option at the time.

And she agrees with fans that building a new ground seems an ‘absurd’ idea when there is a 32,000 capacity venue already in the city.

She said: “We tried very hard to find a deal to stay at the Ricoh.

“Whether because of ideology, ignorance, ambition or politics, the refusal to complete the restructure based on heads of agreement we signed in 2012 and the subsequent rejection of the CVA, forced the club to leave the stadium and start the season on minus ten points, testing the mettle of supporters, investors, players and managers to the limit.

“The monumental decision to leave the home of the club and move away from the centre of the community was forced upon us only when all rational alternatives had been exhausted with the absence of political will to restructure the 2003 deals, which were signed when the club was moving away from Highfield Road.

“The club could not continue to survive under the terms negotiated by its owners in 2003.

“We signed heads of agreement with both the council and The Alan Edward Higgs Charity, which committed funds substantially exceeding the economic value of the stadium, we produced development plans and brought in specialists to secure the maximum social and economic dividend from having the club stay at the Ricoh – all to no avail.

Ms Seppala also spoke of her regret about the way the League One club was previously managed under the stewardship of previous directors.

And she revealed there were times when the issue surrounding the rent deal at the Ricoh could have been discussed much sooner.

“If I had known then what I know now, we would certainly have done things differently.” seppala added.

“Between 2008 and 2011 we lacked the collective courage, commitment and foresight to address the underlying problems.

“We continued to fund losses driven by the costs of occupying the Ricoh with no prospect of improving the club under the impending Financial Fair Play rules. We should have recognised this earlier.

“Sadly, everything always looks clear with the benefit of hindsight. I say this by way of explanation not excuse.

“I cannot change the past, but players, management, supporters and investors can shape the future.

“I take my share of the responsibility for where we are and it is time for others to set aside personal and political ambitions and do what is right, not what is convenient and popular.”

Despite the club’s current plight Ms Seppala says Sisu will continue to invest in the academy in order to achieve long term success under manager Steven Pressley.

She added: “A great deal of investment is being put into the club’s Academy because home-grown talent must be at the core of the team to give the club the best possible chance of long-term success.

“Together we can take control of our own future, on and off the football field, and I wish to be part of restoring the club to its former glory at the centre of the community.”

The Sky Blues left the Ricoh in the summer following a bitter public row over unpaid rent. (s)

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