16th Nov, 2018

REACTION: Coventry City fans' outrage at council refusal to join mediation talks to end five-year dispute

Correspondent 23rd Mar, 2017 Updated: 23rd Mar, 2017

MANY Coventry City fans have taken to the internet to express their outrage (see below) at Coventry City Council’s refusal to come join mediation talks to resolve the five-year dispute surrounding the Sky Blues – with the aim of keeping the club in the city.

The Coventry Observer’s Save Our City campaign – which has long called for a multi-party solution to the intransigent multi-party dispute – this week called on the council, Ricoh Arena owners Wasps and one fans’ group the Sky Blue Trust to make clear they were willing to join in mediation talks, at least in principle, .

Council leaders and Wasps have previously stated they were not willing to talk over long-term stadium solutions for the Sky Blues under parent company Sisu, while there is ongoing legal action by Sisu against the council’s Ricoh Arena sale to the then London Wasps in 2014.

Others, including this newspaper, have pointed out mediation is used every day in all walks of life precisely to prevent outstanding legal matters from ending up in court.

We exclusively revealed on Sunday that early stage mediation talks were under way, initiated by MPs.

We revealed Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry, is involved in the talks, and is understood to be reporting to sports minister Tracey Crouch. Several parties in the dispute have been approached and sounded out.

Council leader George Duggins yesterday released a statement to us, which it is understood was cleared by his colleagues on the ruling Labour cabinet.

It states: “Like all fans, the Council is keen to ensure a strong and successful football club in the city.

“However, the Council does not have any influence over where the Club plays or the location of its training academy/training facility. These are matters for the Football Club to raise with the relevant parties.

“In the event that mediation is successful and/or other plans come to fruition, the Council will consider any planning application and/or requests relating to the Council as landowner in respect of the football club in accordance with our statutory duties.”

Public and political pressure could continue, including from within Coun Duggins’ own Labour party. Coventry South Labour MP Jim Cunningham had been calling on ‘any and all parties’ including the council to take part in mediation, and he last year called on the sports minister to appoint a suitable mediator.

Coun Duggins’ statement falsely asserts the council – which is freehold owner of both the Ricoh Arena they sold to Wasps in 2014 and Coventry rugby club’s Butts Park Arena – has no influence over Coventry City’s stadium and academy matters.

Many Coventry City fans – while opinion is divided – had taken to internet forums to call on the council and Wasps to indicate they were willing to take part in mediation talks.

The Coventry Observer’s Save Our City campaign has called for pressure on ALL sides in a multi-party dispute to work towards a fair deal for Coventry City Football Club, on a stadium and an academy.

As we revealed, the football club is already involved in the early stage mediation process. It is calling through the mediation process for “active not passive support” from the council for a long-term solution for their youth academy and a stadium – with a switch from the council-backed Wasps-owned Ricoh Arena to Cov rugby’s Butts Park Arena as a potential preferred option, if peace can break out.

Wasps’ representatives have responded to us to say there are ‘not involved in mediation’ at present. They would not elaborate. The Sky Blue Trust – campaigning for a ‘fans’ takeover’ without showing in five years a credible plan to achieve it – have not so far responded to us.

More to come.

Ellis Romero‏ @EllisRomero mediation “could” stop legal process….#bonkers

pipehitterz‏ @pipehitterz grounds for the government to step in surely. They’re washing their hands of a situation they created

Thomas Gough‏ @Tommyboy119 if the club moves away, watch them all flooding out like they did last time.

Relegation Certainty‏ @flemoil Telling us all we need to know about the council, abdicating all responsibility is not what leaders do, shameful

Mark Burford‏ @burfabulous Council decides to sell the stadium specifically built as home to #Skyblues to Wasps but are somehow now uninvolved?!

Dave Robinson‏ @chiefdave74 odd, in September Duggins said if SISU paid @coventrycc £325K they could assist yet now claiming nothing to do with them #PUSB

Craig Ward‏ @CraigWard0207 They are as much to blame as SISU for the plight of the SkyBlues, if not more so. #shameful

do NOT call me Al !!‏ @alanmac87 should replace the elephant emblem on our coat of arms with an ostrich

Ellis Romero‏ @EllisRomero Outrageous. What a joke @coventrycc are. City of peace and reconciliation my ****.

Benjamin Lipman‏ @BenjaminLipman sometimes you have to do what’s best to save the situation! something here makes me think they only care about themselves..

Jay Stuart‏ @SkyBlueJay they only care about Wasps, simple as that

Dave Nicholls‏ @davenichollshmp this says it all about this council. Have zero interest in ccfc and the city of Coventry

Spencer Cotton‏ @spoony87 tells you everything you need to know about our council, they just don’t care about our club.

Scott Keene‏ @TheScottKeene Shambles, they should be ashamed of themselves #VoteOut

Sam‏ @woody23red Cant say I’m surprised. Time they were held accountable for what they have done!

Mark Collins‏ @markrcollins87 Shows them up for what they really are

Frank‏ @kissimmeefrank thought that’s what mediation was all about, everyone taking part!

 

UPDATE: The Sky Blue Trust has this afternoon released a statement saying: “We call on all parties – SISU, CCC (Coventry City Council), Wasps/ACL (Arena Coventry Limited), Football League, FA, Sport England, and Coventry Sports Foundation to put their differences aside for one minute and discuss, through a neutral mediator, a potential solution. The supporters of Coventry City deserve no less – just give us some hope to cling to.”

It adds: “Let all parties who could influence the future success of our club join in the process, tell the mediator what potential help could be offered on what terms, even terms such as dropping legal action before anything concrete actually happens.”

The Coventry Observer’s Save Our City campaign says no such unusual and counterproductive pre-conditions should be placed on mediation, and that professional mediation on a daily basis reaches an END point where legal action is dropped.

The full Trust statement is on its website.

 

 

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