Coventry City Council and English Premiership rugby union club Wasps have called on the owners of the city’s League One football club, Sisu, to end their legal action over the sale of the Ricoh Arena after the Supreme Court rejected its latest appeal.
The latest development in the long-running saga has seen the Supreme Court refuse to overturn last year’s High Court decision not to permit a full judicial review into the matter by Sisu companies including Otium Entertainment and Sky Blue Sports & Leisure.
Sisu has been campaigning against the 2014 deal, which made Wasps owners of the Ricoh Arena and the council the stadium’s freeholder. Wasps moved from London to Coventry as part of the deal, which saw Coventry City assume tenant status at the 32,753-seat venue it has called home since it opened in 2005.
Sisu’s argument has revolved around its claim that Coventry City Council undervalued the Ricoh Arena by £28m (€32.3m/$36.6m) when the stadium was sold to Wasps in a £19m deal. Coventry City has also repeatedly claimed that the majority of commercial income from the stadium, an important revenue stream for the club, goes to Wasps even on its matchdays.
Sisu has yet to comment on yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) court ruling, but it comes after it last month said it would end its legal action if it receives support to build a new stadium. Coventry City’s current lease deal is due to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season and an English Football League (EFL) meeting scheduled for April 25 could see the club expelled from the organisation if it has not come to an agreement on where to play its home games next season.
Both Wasps and the city council have refused to discuss an extension to Coventry City’s lease deal at the Ricoh Arena while Sisu continues to pursue legal action. A joint statement from George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council and Gary Ridley, Leader of the Opposition Conservative Group, read: “We are delighted with the judgment from the highest court in the land which once again justifies why we have robustly defended all claims brought by Sisu-related companies over recent years.
“Sisu has continually sought to re-open decisions taken by the Council almost five years ago but we have always remained steadfast in our belief that those decisions were appropriate, lawful and in the best interests of Coventry tax payers.
“We hope that this will be the last stage of the litigation and that Sisu will accept this as the end of all legal action so that further unnecessary costs are avoided for all parties involved. The continuing litigation is achieving nothing apart from 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 here in this city.”
Nick Eastwood, chief executive of the Wasps Group, added, according to the Coventry Observer newspaper: “We have noted the Supreme Court’s ruling and we sincerely hope that this marks a watershed in this long-running saga.
“We would urge the owners of Coventry City Football Club to take this opportunity and cease this legal action, allowing them finally to come to the table to discuss the club’s future at the Ricoh Arena – something all parties are keen to see happen.”
Image: Ricoh Arena