THE WAR of words between the Sky Blues and Ricoh Arena stadium owners Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) has erupted once more just days before a mass protest march by thousands of supporters.
Hopes of a return to the city for the Sky Blues in time for the new season were seemingly dashed once again after ACL, which is jointly owned by the council and the Alan Higgs Charity, told the club to ‘stop playing with fans hopes of a return to the venue’.
In a statement released on Thursday, ACL confirmed they will not return to negotiations until the League One club pays up £590,000 owed as part of the club’s administration process last year.
ACL have confirmed they received a conditional offer from the club which was approximately one fifth of the amount owed.
Club chief executive, Tim Fisher, told the Observer that they would consider speaking to the council and ACL about the possibility of an interim deal to play at the Ricoh while plans continue to build a new stadium in the ‘Coventry area’.
But ACL want full payment which was due to have been paid by May 31, 2014 and they also want the League One club to drop any further legal action following the recent judicial review hearing which was won by the council.
An ACL spokesman said: “The £590,000 debt is non-negotiable and its settlement and the dropping of all litigation involving ACL is a pre-condition of any deal to return the club to the Ricoh Arena.
“The comments, reputedly from OEG, in the media about making interim arrangements for the full discharge of the obligation is a smokescreen, the facts are clear: they have not met their commitment to the Football League and are attempting to divert the attention of fans and journalists alike.
“As it stands we believe OEG is in clear breach of the Football League’s own insolvency policy in relation to non-connected creditors.
“It is also our belief that a return to the city may already be impossible for the coming season due to the arrangements that OEG have in place with Northampton Town.”