COVENTRY City have today responded to latest rumours of a takeover by clarifying no ‘credible offers’ have been received, we can reveal.
Asked about speculation that the club’s former vice-chairman Gary Hoffman had in recent days lodged a bid to parent company Sisu to buy the club – and with other media stories about Chinese and Australian companies seeking to buy ‘an English club’ – the football club released the following brief statement to us.
“To be clear, the owners have not received any credible offer for the football club.
“The noise and speculation around the football club is simply not helpful.”
It is the first time the club has responded to the latest rumours, including the Hoffman bid.
Speculation has been rife, including on internet forums, again this week that Mr Hoffman had in recent days lodged a bid to Sisu’s Joy Seppala.
It appears from the statement any such bid would have been flatly rejected as lacking any credibility.
Club chairman Tim Fisher told us last month there had been no credible offer for the club which had shown proof of funds, or transparency of investors – the criteria by which it is understood Sisu would consider any bid, as well as the financial terms of any offer.
It follows speculation two weeks ago that Mr Hoffman and former Sky Blues chairman Joe Elliott had reached an ‘agreement in principle’ accepted by Sisu, a widely circulated rumour that was categorically dismissed as false.
Mr Elliott and Mr Hoffman – the pair who hire a corporate box for home matches at the Ricoh Arena – have failed with various takeover attempts since their departures from Coventry City Football Club’s board.
Mr Elliott fronted a failed would-be attempt by American property investor Preston Haskell IV in 2013. In that year, several takeover attempts, some with the involvement of Coventry City Council, failed via an administration process – amid a multi-party dispute over Ricoh Arena stadium rent, revenues and ownership.
The Sisu group of companies would still remain as secured creditors in the event of any further administration. It is despite some self-styled fans’ leaders including David Johnson of Fighting The Jimmy Hill Way recently speculating in a BBC Coventry & Warwickshire interview that ‘fans’ could ‘acquire’ the club via another administration after poor season ticket sales.
Mr Johnson last week declined to answer our questions about why he had mooted the idea, which was not well received by other Sky Blues fans on internet forums.
Any administration would mean further points deductions for the Sky Blues team – now relegated to League Two, the fourth tier of English football – and struggling to make ends meet amid off-field politics and being deprived of commercial revenues from a stadium.
The fans group The Sky Blue Trust and associated groups have campaigned for ‘fans’ or ‘part-fans’ ownership for five years, but have failed in that time to show a credible plan for achieving it.
Mr Hoffman fronted another failed takeover attempt in 2011.