COVENTRY City Football Club have this morning announced the departure of managing director Chris Anderson.
The circumstances behind his departure, which had been rumoured since the club last week advertised for a new post of ‘operations director’, are not entirely clear.
Academic, author and former German league football player Mr Anderson was brought in by the club’s owners Sisu a year ago.
His first few months saw him publicly stating he would be keen to negotiate a long-term deal to stay at the Ricoh Arena with the stadium’s owners Wasps if a deal could be struck in the club’s best interests, while his bosses were emphasising their desire to move to a new stadium.
But in interviews with us in recent months he had come to the view that staying as tenants at the Ricoh would be unviable, as Wasps would not be prepared to hand over significant revenues.
Mr Anderson also campaigned for the club to retain its purpose-built ‘lifeblood’ category 2 youth academy at the Alan Higgs Centre when the lease expires next year, amid rugby club Wasps’ plans to move in. It came despite previous public statements by the club that it could look to relocate the academy over the medium to long term.
He articulated a view that Coventry City Council, the city’s sporting charities close to the council, and others appeared to be squeezing the 133-year-old club out of the city in favour of Wasps amid on-going legal action in the Ricoh Arena dispute.
The club’s excellent first half to last season seems a distant memory with the Sky Blues now languishing at the foot of League One with a new team and a shortage of goals.
A club statement today reads: “Chris will be returning to his role at Anderson Sally LLC, and the club would like to thank him for all his hard work over the past year…
“Coventry City Football Club confirms that Chris Anderson has decided to step down from his position as Managing Director and Executive Vice Chairman.
“Chris will return to his role as Senior Partner at Anderson Sally LLC, a football industry advisory firm.
“CCFC Chairman Tim Fisher said: “We would like to put on record our thanks to Chris for his hard work and diligence since coming to the club. Going forward, the club will continue to be actively managed by the club’s Board of Directors, with Technical, Operations, and Commercial Director roles all reporting to the Board.”
“CCFC Board member and Technical Director Mark Venus commented: “We wish Chris all the best. I know how hard he has worked for the football club, always keeping the best interests of the club and supporters in mind.”
“Chris Anderson said: “I came to CCFC to help with the ongoing process of laying the right foundations for the football club on the commercial and football sides.
“Solid progress has been made on both counts, and I would like to thank everyone associated with the club – and especially the club’s supporters and my fellow Board directors and colleagues for all their support. I wish them and the club all the success in the future.”
“There will be no further comment from the club at this time.”
Wasps were reported to have called off talks over the Sky Blues staying at the Ricoh over the long term, blaming ongoing legal action by Sisu against the council concerning the long-running Ricoh dispute.
Talks between Cov Rugby club and the football club to groundshare at an expanded Butts Park Arena, which had continued for over a year until this summer, appeared to hit the buffers when former Cov player and lawyer Chris Millerchip said he would not sell his head lease to the Butts unless issues between the council and the Sky Blues could be resolved.
It also emerged Mr Millerchip’s family fund is funding the council and sporting authority backed ‘Coventry a City of Rugby’ project, while a council email leaked to us revealed council attempts to block a Butts groundshare.
Wasps have now been granted full planning permission by the council to build a new training centre at the Higgs centre, while multi-party talks take place on Wednesday (September 21) to examine whether the football club could remain on site and retain crucial category 2 centre of excellence status from the football authorities.
With a council backed swimming pool in addition to the Wasps training centre being planned for the Higgs centre, it would appear a Category 2 football academy could not be retained fully on site.
Mr Anderson was unavailable for further comment.