Newly promoted Championship football club Coventry City has confirmed that it will groundshare with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s for a second successive season.
Coventry spent its promotion-winning 2019-20 campaign at St Andrew’s amid a long-running battle between Sisu, which owns the club, and Wasps Holdings Limited, the parent company of Premiership Rugby club Wasps and the Ricoh Arena, where Coventry had previously played its home games.
In a statement, Coventry said that the desire of the club and its owner is to return to Coventry as soon as possible, adding that it had entered into negotiations with Wasps in “good faith and hopeful of a viable and realistic deal” to benefit both clubs and the wider community.
Coventry said that negotiations have ultimately resulted in the “same issues that prevented a deal last season” doing so again for the 2020-21 campaign.
Coventry added: “Unfortunately we are unable to disclose full details due to the requirement to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to negotiations taking place.
“Last year the critical issue was Wasps’ insistence of indemnity clauses into the license agreement, with this indemnity for themselves and for a third-party.”
In its own statement, Wasps said that it was “totally surprised and deeply disappointed that the owners of Coventry City have taken this decision when we were very close to reaching commercial agreement on a deal”.
Wasps added: “We did not require the football club or its owners to sign any indemnity around legal action over the Ricoh Arena, and firmly believe that we had made the deal as commercially attractive as possible.
“We, like everyone else, believe the football club should be playing its home games in the city that bears its name and its decision to choose to remain in Birmingham is a wasted opportunity on a massive scale.”
Following the statement released by Wasps, Coventry chief executive Dave Boddy sought to respond to “incorrect claims” made.
Boddy said: “For Wasps to say that Coventry City ‘pulled out’ of talks is absolutely disingenuous.
“CCFC had a deadline from the EFL of Monday 20th July at 5pm to inform them where we would be playing our home games for the 20-21 season. This date had been known to Wasps for some weeks. I personally twice told Stephen Vaughan (Wasps CEO) the date and all parties engaged in the process had been sent written confirmation of this deadline from the EFL some weeks ago.
“The principle and concept of an indemnity against Wasps and a third party was absolutely a requirement, and this indemnity would have put the football club at substantial risk and jeopardise its very future.”
Last week, Coventry announced that it is working with the University of Warwick to explore a potential new stadium for the club. An exact site has yet to be agreed but Coventry said its proximity would be on the agricultural field area of the university land on its main campus.
Image: Birmingham City FC