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SBD Global/August 2, 2013/Franchises

Coventry City's Row With Stadium Owner Has Club Facing 'Serious Risk Of Liquidation'

League One Coventry City faces a "serious risk of liquidation on Friday and a severe points deduction, potentially plunging the club into deeper crisis one day before the start of their League One season," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Coventry City will have a final creditors meeting on Friday at which Arena Coventry Ltd., the owner of the Ricoh Arena and jointly made up of Coventry city council and the Higgs Trust, "would need to sign a company voluntary arrangement that would secure payment to creditors" if the club is to exit administration. ACL claimed on Tuesday that it would "consider signing the CVA if specific amendments were made." One was that the club signs a "new 10-year rent deal at the Ricoh, significantly reducing the annual rent on the stadium" to £150,000 ($227,145) a year, down from the previous £1.3M ($2M) contract. Coventry City CEO Tim Fisher, however, said that ACL's amendments "would not be made to the CVA and that a planned groundshare with Northampton Town would go ahead" (GUARDIAN, 7/31). In Coventry, Les Reid reported Warwickshire businessman Michael Byng claims that "Ricoh Arena delays in enabling Coventry City to exit administration are preventing possible Chinese investment in the club and Ricoh Arena." Byng: "Chinese investors remain interested and have been in position for some months. But they are confused by the approach adopted by Coventry City Football Club's owners and Coventry City council to resolving the club's problems" (COVENTRY TELEGRAPH, 7/31).

IT 'GOES BEYOND FOOTBALL': Also in Coventry, Steve Carpenter reported supporters have "welcomed last-ditch talks" between ACL and Coventry City to keep the team in Coventry. Sky Blue Trust spokesperson Jan Mokrzycki said, "The whole sorry saga goes way beyond football and the fans are in complete contempt. The frustrating part is what do us fans have to look forward to?" (COVENTRY OBSERVER, 7/31).

NO TALKS: In a separate piece, Reid reported no 11th-hour talks aimed at keeping Coventry City at the Ricoh have taken place between council leader Ann Lucas and SISU Capital CEO Joy Seppala. Seppala "remains keen to take up Lucas's offer of 'woman-to-woman' talks any time, anywhere." It is "not known if there are attempts today [Thursday] on either side for the two women to talk" before Friday's meeting (COVENTRY TELEGRAPH, 8/1)
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