Legal

Coventry issued with eviction notice by Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group

Frasers Group, which recently secured ownership of the Coventry Building Society Arena, has issued stadium tenant Coventry City with an eviction notice, claiming that the Championship club has no right to use the venue.

Frasers Group is a British retail company owned by Mike Ashley, the former owner of Premier League club Newcastle United. It secured ownership of the stadium on November 17 after the venue’s operating companies – Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), Arena Coventry (2006) Limited and IEC Experience Limited – applied to be placed into administration.

The BBC reported earlier today that Coventry has been handed an eviction notice by Frasers Group. The report stated that the club has been asked to return keys and access cards to the CBS Arena, while the team’s FA Youth Cup game on Saturday was relocated to Leamington.

Coventry has now confirmed the reports, with the club having been told that it must agree a new licence to play at the stadium. A statement from the club expressed “surprise” at Frasers Group’s intentions.

The club’s existing long-term licence to play at the stadium was agreed in March 2021 and runs until 2031. Frasers Group has now presented a new agreement to the club, with new commercial terms, which Coventry states have been proposed “without any dialogue or negotiations”.

The new licence would only run until May 2023 and while Coventry said that Frasers Group would be willing to negotiate beyond this date, the club has been left without the “security and certainty” its current deal provides.

Frasers Group secured ownership of the stadium for a reported £17m (€19.7m/$20.9m). Coventry previously shared the stadium with Premiership rugby union club Wasps, which was placed into administration in October, leaving the future of CBS Arena up in the air.

The sale of the stadium was completed a day after Coventry owners SISU Capital Ltd agreed to sell a majority stake in the club to local businessman Doug King. Coventry then submitted a £25m bid to acquire the stadium but a court ruled that this had come too late, with Frasers Group’s bid ultimately accepted.

Andrew Sheridan and Raj Mittal, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP, were appointed joint administrators of the stadium’s operating companies and immediately completed the sale of the businesses to Frasers Group.

At the time, Sheridan described the sale as a “pleasing outcome” that would help secure up to 1,000 jobs in Coventry. A spokesperson for Frasers Group said that the acquisition of the stadium would complement its existing portfolio of brands and investments, adding that the company was particularly looking forward to working with the football club.

Today’s news, however, places doubt over Coventry’s future at the CBS Arena. The club’s first game after the World Cup break is away at Reading on Saturday, and it is scheduled to host Swansea City at the CBS Arena on December 17.