18th Aug, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Coventry City 'owners' Sisu dismiss claims of 'ongoing takeover talks' after Hoffman bid rejected

Les Reid 21st Apr, 2017 Updated: 21st Apr, 2017

CLAIMS today that Coventry City ‘takeover talks’ are ‘ongoing’ with Gary Hoffman have been categorically dismissed as false by the club’s ‘owners’ Sisu, we can reveal – after we revealed yesterday his bid was rejected as ‘derisory’.

We revealed around midday yesterday, following internet speculation of the Hoffman bid in recent days, a club statement which said ‘no credible offer’ had been lodged.

We later exclusively revealed the terms of his £500,000-upfront bid – with add-ons including £250,000 for any promotions. We also exclusively confirmed that he had been behind the bid, and that it had been categorically rejected.

Sisu has today released the following statement to us, after we requested comment about the latest claim of ongoing talks with the ex-club vice-chairman Mr Hoffman.

The Sisu statement reads: “Following recent press articles discussing offers for CCFC, SISU would like to confirm and put on record that there are not (nor have there been) any talks or negotiations taking place for the sale of CCFC.

“Indeed, Mr Hoffman himself has noted publicly that the derisory bids put forward by him in recent days were immediately rejected.

“There were no talks prior to receiving the bids, nor are any expected or planned.”

As we reported yesterday, we also understand the bid provided no 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.

Asked yesterday about the Hoffman speculation and other media stories about Chinese and Australian companies seeking to buy ‘an English club’ – the football club had 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.”

Sisu has previously stated it wanted to acquire value for the club, and needed more commercial stadium revenues for the team to be more competitive.

Mr Fisher recently told a fans’ group Sky Blue Trust meeting that a sale of the club was not likely at the bottom of the cycle, or market – with Sisu seeking a return on its investment since taking over the club nine years ago.

The club has claimed Sisu and associated companies including Arvo Master Fund have invested at least £70million in the club, including in inter-company loans and some debts now transferred into shares. There have been some reports that the figure is now above £100million.

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.

Mr Hoffman fronted another failed takeover attempt in 2011.

The club is now relegated to League Two, the fourth tier of English football – and is 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.

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