The leader of Coventry City Council has moved to reassure local people and sports fans following recent coverage about Coventry rugby club's idea to create a shared stadium with CCFC.
The ownership and lease position at the Butts is complicated. The Council own the freehold of the site. The lease of the whole of the Butts site is held by a company Coventry Rugby Properties LLP, controlled by Chris Millerchip. This lease permits the ground to be used as a Rugby Football Club and Pitch and for other 'leisure and sporting activities'. It is a requirement of this lease that Coventry Rugby Club have a lease of the pitch and the east stand for a peppercorn. The Coventry Rugby Club lease is controlled by Jon Sharp and the directors of the Rugby Club, is not for the whole of the site, is restricted to use for a Rugby Football Club only and is at a peppercorn. This lease was put in place to protect the Rugby Club when it came out of liquidation in 2010.
Jon Sharp has been in negotiation to acquire the Chris Millerchip lease. The Council cannot unreasonably refuse consent to this transfer if the parties agree terms. He has also asked the Council to vary the lease between the Rugby Club and the Millerchip lease which requires the Council's approval.
Coventry Rugby Club do not presently control the whole site. They shared their plan to develop a joint stadium with the Council in April 2016. They were informed that because the development of a joint stadium was of public interest and that a request to change the leases that that would vary the protection for the Rugby Club, these were issues that would require formal consideration by the Council and further information was requested to enable a report to be prepared.
Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: "I want to clear up any confusion about the proposal to develop a joint stadium for rugby and football. I want to be really clear that the council will not put any obstacles in the way of this happening. Anything that requires our involvement including variations to the leases will be considered in the usual way - openly and transparently by members.
"But just to be clear the last contact we had with the rugby club about this proposal requested further information and this hasn't been received.
"The development of a larger stadium would require planning permission and we have not received an application. But at the point that we do, this will be treated like any other application including looking at all of the associated issues like parking, traffic and the impact on neighbours.”