Council open letter to SISU

Published Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Councillor George Duggins, Leader, Coventry City Council and Councillor Gary Ridley, Leader of the Conservative Group, Coventry City Council said:

"At last week’s Full Council meeting, unanimous cross-party support was once again shown over Coventry City Council’s ongoing stance regarding the owners of the football club – mainly that the never-ending and drawn out litigation must be dropped. It is evident that the continuation of litigation is alienating them from the partners in the city who they should be working with to secure a successful and sustainable future for Coventry City Football Club.

As well as being divisive, the time and cost to taxpayers in this city in defending litigation that has consistently been found in our favour over a number of years, is both disruptive and distracting. The costs, opportunity cost and corrosive impact on partnership working is the reason why we are so adamant this process needs to end, a view we know is shared by Wasps. It is in SISU’s hands alone to make this happen.

Another clear message from the Council meeting was that we want to see the football club playing in the city, preferably at the Ricoh Arena. However, if the club’s owners do not want or cannot pursue that option, we want to reiterate that we are willing to work with the owners of the football club to secure a future within the city.

In an open letter earlier this month, SISU indicated that in order to stop the litigation, they wanted “a stadium development supported by the Council in Coventry with enabling development on reasonable terms.” We encourage SISU to be more specific with us about planning and enablement of the development of a new stadium. We also want to stress that any application for a stadium development will be dealt with completely impartially and in accordance with our statutory duties.

Any accusation that the Council is being obstructive or treating them differently is unfounded and untrue. We met agents acting on their behalf only last week but details remain extremely high level with no sign of any solutions or detailed plans that would be needed for such a sizeable development. Any planning application for a new stadium is about far more than just the structure, as it would need to address a multitude of issues from ensuring sufficient transport infrastructure through to addressing potential hurdles with an identified site.

Even with an identified site, where planning and development can be dealt with rapidly; the creation of a new stadium in the City for CCFC is obviously not a short-term fix. So we come back to the fact that Coventry City Council wants to see the football club remain within the city. For the next period, this can only realistically be at the Ricoh Arena. So in order to give the English Football League the assurance it understandably demands for next season and for fans to be able to carry on supporting the Sky Blues, hopefully as a Championship team, then SISU has no choice but to cease for all time the legal action, without any pre-conditions. It is SISU’s right to pursue legal action but if they wish to continue to do so, we would urge them to divest themselves of the football club so it can have a secure future in this City."

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