Coventry pitch deemed ‘unplayable’ after Commonwealth Games

Coventry City’s Championship match against Rotherham United yesterday (Sunday) was postponed after the Coventry Building Society Arena pitch was deemed unsafe following its use for rugby sevens games at the Commonwealth Games.

A senior match official inspected the pitch on Saturday and found that the surface was “unsafe and unplayable”.

Coventry, which does not own the stadium, said it was “extremely disappointed” to announce the postponement, with the club expressing its frustration that the pitch was not up to standard.

The CBS Arena is owned by Premiership rugby union club Wasps. Coventry’s owners had a long-running dispute with Coventry City Council over the sale of the stadium to Wasps in 2014, but in February the Championship club confirmed that it had ended all proceedings relating to the matter.

In a statement released on Saturday, Coventry said that promised investment into a new pitch did not materialise over the summer. The stadium staged two concerts by Rammstein and The Killers earlier in the summer, before the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens competitions were held at the venue last weekend.

Coventry chief executive Dave Boddy said: “We are extremely disappointed at this postponement due to the condition of the pitch. It has been deemed unplayable and unsafe by the inspecting official and, having seen it myself, I can understand this decision.

“Last season the condition of the pitch was highlighted as a concern and we expected that this would be addressed by Wasps and the Arena, who are responsible for the pitch, over the summer – sadly this has not been the case, and this is the result of that, plus the large amount of use at the Commonwealth Games last week.

“I am seeking urgent talks with Stephen Vaughan, the chief executive at Wasps, and the Arena over the condition of the pitch, and expect immediate and significant improvements to be made to make the pitch playable as soon as possible.”

A Birmingham 2022 spokesperson told the BBC that the organising committee had an agreement in place to use the stadium until August 14. The spokesperson said that organisers rearranged their derigging schedule to make the stadium available for Coventry matches on August 7, 10 and 14, but the pitch was not deemed playable.

Coventry said that all tickets purchased for yesterday’s match will be eligible for the rearranged game, details of which will be confirmed in due course. Coventry is due to play Bristol City at home in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

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.

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