COVENTRY City Football Club have confirmed today they are in talks with Finham Park School to relocate their youth academy.
This newspaper on Monday afternoon exclusively revealed the talks with a school, which as our story stated we chose not to name amid further deliberations.
A statement on the Coventry City website this morning reads: “CCFC are currently exploring the possibility of utilising a site based at Finham Park School in Coventry for the relocation of the Academy.
“Discourse is in the early stages and is on-going. This site is one option currently under consideration.
“There is still a huge amount of work to be done, but progress is being made and more detail will come to light in the near future.”
The academy wants to use the outdoor football pitches at the school, which could get new pitches as part of a deal.
CCFC chairman Tim Fisher also confirmed on Monday night the club is examining whether it could reach agreement with the Coventry Sports Foundation (CSF)-operated Alan Higgs Centre to use indoor facilities there – which could include rugby club Wasps’ delayed new indoor ‘kicking barn’ facility, if and when it gets built.
It is hoped the latest plans could be enough to satisfy the football authorities that Category 2 status, for which over £500,000 a year is received, should be maintained.
The Sky Blues’ academy – which has produced young stars such as Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Norwich’s James Maddison, and current homegrown City stars Ben Stevenson and Jordan Willis – has faced an uncertain future in the last year.
A multi-party dispute between Coventry City Council, the club’s parent company Sisu, the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and other parties over the Ricoh Arena stadium and later the academy, led to city councillors last year granting Ricoh Arena owners Wasps planning permission to build a £7million training centre for their players at the Alan Higgs Centre.
The centre in Allard Way was originally purpose-built for the football club’s academy.
Wasps recently confirmed their new training centre has been delayed. They say it is now scheduled to be built some time next season, including the kicking barn. The initial expectation had been that it would be ready this summer, ahead of the 2017/8 season.
There are also council-backed plans for a 50-metre swimming pool at the Alan Higgs Centre, to be built on the Sky Blues’ academy’s existing indoor and publicly used pitch.
Wasps’ kicking barn would be built on the football club academy’s former outdoor pitch.
Questions remain over whether the council would plough ahead with building a swimming pool – displacing CCFC academy’s indoor facilities – if Higgs’ training centre and kicking barn are ultimately not built.