TALKS over the future of the Sky Blues’ youth academy continued today – as the club and Rugby council sought to allay fans’ fears over selling their training ground for housing development if it can be relocated.
The multi-party meetings started last week over the future of the club’s ‘lifeblood’ youth academy.
Involved in the discussions have been rugby club Wasps, Coventry Sport Foundation (CSF) and the Sky Blues, alongside representatives from the FA and Football League.
Coventry City Council has granted planning permission for Wasps to build a training ground at the Sky Blues’ purpose-build youth academy home.
The talks are examining whether part or all of the club’s Category 2 status youth academy could remain at the Alan Higgs Centre at Allard Way when the Ricoh Arena’s owners Wasps move in next June to the centre operated by CSF.
Round two of the talks were taking place today and remain confidential. The Observer understands they have so far been inconclusive.
The Sky Blues’s director Tim Fisher told a recent Supporters’ Consultative Group fans’ meeting last week that the ‘technical discussions’ aimed to “ascertain whether Wasps’s proposed ‘kicking barn’ will work for academy use.”
He added: “It should then become clear whether the academy’s tenure at Allard Way can continue or whether we need to find a contingency.”
Meanwhile, the football club released on its website a statement regarding the separate training ground at Ryton-on-Dunsmore.
A Coventry City FC spokesperson said: “Coventry City FC can confirm that the club’s training base at Ryton has been included in the Rugby Borough Council’s local plan as a potential redevelopment site.
“The Club have worked alongside Rugby Council, Sport England and representatives from Ryton Parish Council to get the land proposed for housing in the local plan, and the consultation period for that will begin on 26th September. The Club will be engaging fully with the consultation process.
“The objective is to relocate to a new modern site (currently under review), which will act as an inspirational environment and will better serve the needs of the football club as a whole.
“The Club would like to reiterate that the current site cannot be developed until it has demonstrated to Rugby Council and Sport England that an adequate replacement has been provided for.”
That view was supported by Rugby borough councillor Heather Timms, who confirmed : “IF they have a replacement, it will come forward for housing.”
The six-acre green belt site could house up to 75 properties, according to the draft local plan, which allocates land for housing and other development over the next two decades.
Coventry City Football Club have been at the Ryton ground off Leamington Road since the 1960s.
It comes as the football club’s parent company, hedge fund Sisu, faces petitioning fans’ calls to put the club up for sale. The Sky Blues are bottom of League One, after topping it last November.
Other fans on internet forums continued to complain that the role of Coventry City Council and other parties including Sisu in the club’s demise was being ignored in campaigning.
Many added there is no clear sign of any takeover bid or Sisu willingness to sell a club currently deprived of assets including a stadium, while fans are divided over plans to boycott matches.