24th Apr, 2019

BREAKING: Coventry City groundshare options include Cov rugby's Butts Park Arena and Birmingham City

Les Reid 16th Apr, 2019 Updated: 17th Apr, 2019

COVENTRY City have been examining the Butts Park Arena home of Coventry rugby club and Birmingham City as potential options for a groundshare next season, the Coventry Observer has learned.

We also understand a rumoured groundshare at Burton Albion is not currently on the cards.

The Times reports this morning the Butts Park Arena (BPA) and St Andrew’s grounds are being proposed by Coventry City.

We have learned from confidential sources that both are still being considered alongside other options, while the Ricoh Arena remains the club’s preferred option.

Ricoh owners Wasps and the stadium’s freeholder Coventry City Council have refused to negotiate arrangements for the Sky Blues to stay as tenants – unless Coventry City owners Sisu as a precondition to talks drops its ongoing court action against the council’s 2014 deal to sell the venue to then London Wasps.

A Butts Park Arena groundshare – alongside expansion plans – between the two traditional Coventry football and rugby clubs were examined using professional consultants for two years until 2016 when Cov rugby chairman Jon Sharp announced the noise around Sisu meant it could no longer proceed. As revealed by us, a 2016 leaked council email had also uncovered council attempts to block professional football being played there.

Mr Sharp also said at the time that the football club had also wanted a larger capacity – of potentially beyond 20,000 depending on promotions – than would suit the rugby club.

Coventry City has some joint venture arrangements at the city-centre based BPA, which hosts its ticket office.

The ground’s capacity is currently over 4,000. Coventry United F.C have also played home games there.

St Andrew’s holds 29,000 fans. It is considered to be a venue nearby within easy reach of Coventry, although the club has always emphasised it does not want to play outside Coventry.

Sisu said in a recent open letter that it would drop the legal action in return for better council support towards a new stadium in Coventry, and a negotiated “commercially acceptable” interim arrangement at the Ricoh Arena. The football club has repeatedly said the vast majority of commercial revenues needed to support the team go to Wasps, even on the Sky Blues’ own matchdays.

The Coventry Observer earlier this month exclusively revealed the club has been examining for a year the former Woodlands School site as one potential new stadium site, although talks between its agents and council officers have been slow.

Time is ticking before April 25 when an Extraordinary General Meeting of the English Football League will consider Coventry City’s expulsion from the league if it has nowhere to play its home games next season.

We have contacted Birmingham City and Mr Sharp at Coventry rugby club for a response.

More to come when we get it.

UPDATE: Birmingham City is declining to comment, but confidential sources have confirmed that talks have taken place.

Mr Sharp declined to comment.

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