September 25th, 2016

Sky Blues chief throws doubt on Ricoh Arena deal

Updated: 4:43 pm, May 07, 2015

THE Sky Blues would consider a temporary move back to the Ricoh while a new stadium is being built – but chief executive Tim Fisher has doubted whether the city council could afford to offer the club an acceptable deal to do so.

Just days after successfully defending the legal challenge of the taxpayer-funded bail out of the Ricoh, council leader Ann Lucas has again urged the club to move back to the city.

Supporters are also piling the pressure on them to return from Northampton with the Sky Blue Trust asking the club to ‘seize the opportunity’ to get back around the negotiating table.

And campaign group Keep Cov in Cov has even offered to pay the rent at the Ricoh for the next three years without reimbursement unless attendances reached above 5,000.

Mr Fisher told the Observer this week plan A was still to build a new stadium.

But said while he was willing to discuss a new short term deal he did not believe the council could afford to meet its demands because of the £14.4million bail out loan it was servicing.

“If the council said pay a League One rent and have access to all your match day revenues, in other words you (the club) keep all the money you generate, yes we could do a deal.

“The question is do we think they could do that? And the answer is they need all the money they can get to service a loan to the Coventry taxpayer so I don’t think they can do it.

“The council are clearly motivated to have a football club in the city but they’re in a very difficult situation. They’re in a structural situation which is hard for them.

“Coun Lucas has said her door is always wide open but my concern is the door will quickly bang shut because they’re not in a position to resolve the situation, they’ve made it worse.

“Would we go back and do a deal? Yes, as long as the deal is right but I don’t believe they can craft such a deal because I think they’re hamstrung with this huge piece of debt.”

Mr Fisher also continued to say little about the new stadium plan. Six months after releasing pictures of what it might look like there has still been no announcement regarding its location or timetable for its construction.

He did say discussions were ongoing with a landowner, but refused to give any indication as to its location amid concerns any possible deal could be scuppered by opponents of Sisu.

“We haven’t talked about it simply because the council come out and attack the various counter parties that we work with, so we have to keep our cards very close to our chest.

“We need to tie up the deal, work out the confidentiality, work out what happens in terms of a long term partnership because it opens up lots of other land here.

“This is tricky because this is a big deal. Stadium deals are massive.

“I think the fans understand that we’ve got to own our own stadium and they know we have to own our own revenue streams.

“Until that happens we will not be a normal club so we have to strive for that.

“I know some of that is painful but unless we have these big fights and we scrap for everything then we’re not going to be able to take the club forward.

“Yes it is tough at Northampton but what we can’t do is go back to a situation where the club will just die over time.”

Sky Blues chief executive Tim Fisher looks on from the stands in Northampton. Photo by Jon Mullis (buyphotos247.com)

Pictures of how the new stadium might look – if it is ever built.

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