EFL sanctions temporary: Coventry City move to Birmingham

7 June 2019

coventry
Photo: Getty Images Coventry City supporters let off a blue smoke bomb inside The Ricoh Arena during the Sky Bet League One match between Coventry City and Shrewsbury Town at The Ricoh Arena on April 28, 2019 in Coventry, United Kingdom.

Coventry City leave Coventry to play their home games at Birmingham City’s stadium.

Disagreement over the rental amount at Ricoh Arena is behind the move.

Henrik Lønne loenne@offthepitch.com

In the upcoming season, Coventry City will play their home games at the St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium, more than a 20-mile drive away from the club’s former home ground of Ricoh Arena.

This has been made clear in a statement from the EFL, which stresses that the sanctioning is temporary, and given reluctantly, as the EFL Board “remains firmly of the view that its Member Clubs should play in the towns and cities from which they take their name.”

Despite ongoing discussions to keep Coventry City playing in the City of Coventry at the Ricoh Arena, an agreement has not been reached.

The EFL statement explained that the sanctioning was only made as Coventry would have been unlikely to continue to play in the EFL League One, had the ground-sharing agreement with Birmingham City not been approved:

“Despite ongoing discussions to keep Coventry City playing in the City of Coventry at the Ricoh Arena, an agreement has not been reached and as a result the EFL Board was faced with the real prospect of the Club not being able to fulfil its fixtures for 2019/20 season, which would inevitably have called into question the Club’s continued membership in the League.”

No permanent relocation

Coventry City’s owners also reassured the EFL that they will not put forward an application to the EFL Board to permanently relocate the club to anywhere outside the Coventry area.

The EFL has placed several conditions on Coventry City to ensure that the club find a way of playing in Coventry as soon as possible, including the payment of a £1 million bond and a quarterly review in order for the board to be updated on developments ahead of the 2020/21 season.

In an unsigned statement on the club’s website, the club expressed their disappointment and frustration at the differences between the ownership and the Wasps and stressed an intention to stay at the Ricoh Arena.

Intended as a replacement for Coventry City’s historic Highfield Road stadium, Ricoh Arena is owned by the Wasps Rugby Football Club and the core of the dispute is the conditions of the lease, which Coventry City’s owners believe to be too steep for the League One side.

In an unsigned statement on the club’s website, the club expressed their disappointment and frustration at the differences between the ownership and the Wasps and stressed an intention to stay at the Ricoh Arena.

It did, however, conclude that what the landlord requested of Coventry City FC’s owners, and ultimately the club, was simply not deliverable. Somewhat ambiguously, the club also stated:

“It can be argued that the landlord was fully aware of this.”