Operations

Coventry given suspended points deduction over postponed games

Championship club Coventry City has been handed a suspended five-point deduction from the English Football League after its home matches against Rotherham United, Wigan Athletic and Huddersfield Town were postponed earlier this season due to the state of the Coventry Building Society Arena pitch.

The pitch at the CBS Arena was deemed unsafe after it was used for rugby sevens matches at the Commonwealth Games during the summer. Coventry’s match against Rotherham United was postponed as a result, and games against Wigan and Huddersfield were also unable to go ahead as scheduled.

Coventry’s Carabao Cup match against Bristol City was also moved to the Pirelli Stadium, home of Burton Albion, due to the pitch issues, which were exacerbated by concerts from Rammstein and The Killers earlier in the summer.

An agreement was then reached with Wasps Group, which owned the stadium at the time, to carry out the necessary pitch investments. The improvements meant that Coventry was able to host Preston North End at the CBS Arena on August 31 – a month after the season had started.

Coventry and the EFL have now reached an ‘agreed decision’ regarding the club’s disciplinary sanctions following the postponement of the three games. Coventry has been charged with failing to comply with EFL regulations, and the EFL board invited the club to consider a proposed sanction in respect of the charges.

The proposal included a five-point deduction, which will be suspended for the remainder of the 2022-23 season and the 2023-24 campaign. The club will also pay the EFL’s costs of the investigation, which amount to £6,000 (€6,800/$7,200), and pay such compensation due to Huddersfield, Wigan and Rotherham.

The suspended points deduction will be applied immediately upon any charge being proven, or admitted, relating to any further missed fixture of Coventry in the 2022-23 or season and/or 2023-24 season. Coventry has accepted the proposed sanction.

Coventry chief executive Dave Boddy said: “Our supporters will know that we were left with a pitch at the Arena that was unsafe, dangerous and unplayable for our first games of the season, following the broken promises of a new pitch by Wasps, and the extensive usage at the Commonwealth Games rugby sevens.

“The debacle they caused – and the cashflow problems, reputational damage and inconvenience they created for the football club, as well as impacting upon our sporting performance and our supporters – should have been an indication to us all of the financial plight they were facing.

“Despite the nature of our tenancy at the Arena, and the lack of any control of pitch maintenance at the Arena, it remains our responsibility as an EFL club to adhere to the regulations of the competition.

“We have accepted the decision of the EFL and the sanctions imposed on us, to minimise the sanctions that would be imposed upon us, with the point deduction being suspended. We hope that this draws a line under this and that this is a situation that should never be repeated at the Arena.”

The CBS Arena has since been bought by Frasers Group, a British retail company owned by Mike Ashley, after the stadium’s operating companies applied to be placed into administration.

Frasers Group then issued Coventry with an eviction notice, claiming that the club had no right to use the venue. Coventry eventually signed a new licence agreement with Frasers Group to continue playing at the CBS Arena until May 2023.