EFL issues Coventry with expulsion threat over stadium saga

League One football club Coventry City has reiterated its desire to continue playing at the Ricoh Arena after the English Football League (EFL) demanded clarity over where it will stage home games next season.

Coventry’s deal to play at the 32,000-seat stadium, which is owned by Premiership rugby union club Wasps, expires at the end of the current season. City’s owners, Sisu, are currently embroiled in a legal dispute with Wasps over the sale of the stadium, which went through in 2014.

The EFL Board has now written to Coventry with a “final request for clarity” over the club’s stadium situation. The club has been given until March 5 to provide a further update to the board and if a satisfactory solution is not found over the next two months, an Extraordinary General Meeting of Clubs will be convened to consider Coventry’s expulsion from the EFL.

This meeting would be held on April 25 and will seek to provide clarity regarding the club’s future membership in advance of relegation and promotion issues being resolved during the end-of-season run-in.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “The matter of Coventry City’s efforts to secure a home venue for 2019-20 season and beyond has been a serious concern for all parties for a significant period of time and the objective of the EFL, as it has always been, is to secure an appropriate solution for the long-term future of the club as they are a much valued member of our competition.

“The course of action taken this week is with reluctance, but the League has to ensure the integrity of our competitions is maintained and all clubs meet the obligations that come with being a member of the EFL. We remain in regular dialogue with the club and will provide all practical available assistance in line with EFL Regulations.”

Coventry has confirmed that it received the letter from the EFL Board and outlined the “stark situation” the club finds itself in. In a statement, Coventry said the club’s “only option” is to continue playing at the Ricoh Arena.

The club’s statement added: “Coventry City Football Club wants to do a deal with Wasps Rugby Club as soon as possible, to resolve this impasse so that the dates above are not encountered.

“All parties now need to work together for good of Coventry City Football Club, its supporters, the Ricoh Arena, the City of Coventry and our community – the continued future of the football club needs to be everyone’s focus to prevent more heartache and worry.

“No one should be in any doubt of the significance of Coventry City to Coventry – not in the past, now or in the future.”

Image: Tam