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Coventry ends proceedings over sale of stadium

English Championship football club Coventry City has confirmed that it has ended all proceedings relating to the sale of the Coventry Building Society Arena to Wasps Rugby Club.

Coventry’s owners have had a long-running dispute with Coventry City Council over the sale of the Coventry Building Society Arena (formerly known as the Ricoh Arena) to Wasps in 2014.

Coventry has argued that the council undervalued the stadium by £27m (€32m/$37m) when agreeing to the deal, which made Wasps the owner of the 32,753-seat venue. Coventry’s owners asked the European Commission to investigate whether the deal broke state-aid rules and it has now been reported that the case has been closed.

In a statement released yesterday (Monday), Coventry said that “numerous attempts” to break the impasse have failed. However, the dispute has now been brought to an end following talks between the owners and the University of Warwick.

In July 2020, Coventry announced that it was working with the University of Warwick to explore a potential new stadium for the club.

Coventry said the decision to end proceedings against the council will allow the club to open a “meaningful dialogue” with the council for the first time in a decade.

Joy Seppala, owner of the club, said: “Following discussions with the University of Warwick, we are now able to end all proceedings relating to the sale of the Coventry Building Society Arena.

“As we move forward with our vision, we want to draw a clear line under the past and continue to build new and strong relationships with all our partners, including Coventry City Council. We can now move forward to achieve this, and together, deliver a football club which the city of Coventry can continue to be proud of.”

Stuart Croft, vice-chancellor at the University of Warwick, added: “We have worked closely with Coventry City FC to get to this point. I want to thank both Cllr George Duggins and Joy Seppala for their openness, collaboration, and forward-thinking.

“I’m delighted that Coventry City FC have now sought to end all proceedings and together we can move forward together towards an exciting future. The University of Warwick is proud to be able to support our city’s football club. Not only will this benefit the club and its fans, but the wider benefits to the city will be significant.”

Coventry was forced to play the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons at St Andrew’s, home of Birmingham City, due to the dispute with the council. The club returned home at the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Image: Lewis Clarke/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size