Coventry City in court over Ricoh
Like thousands of other people, I enjoyed Olympic football at the City of Coventry Stadium as the Ricoh Arena was temporarily re-named for the games. Yesterday, however, Coventry City were in the High Court in Birmingham over the money they owe to Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) the company that runs the stadium on behalf of Coventry City Council and the Alan Higgs charitable trust.
In reality the court case was part of an ongoing negotiation between the club and the ACL. Relegated to League 1, the Sky Blues cannot afford to pay the rent. If they were evicted, the stadium would have no tenant and Coventry City Council would not want to see that happen anyway. Lawyers for ACL are doubtful whether they will get their money back.
The club stopped paying its £100,000 a month rent to ACL in April. They were given more time by the high court in Birmingham to repay in excess of £600,000 in rent and other bills. The court told Coventry City to top up a deposit fund set up in 2004 to a minimum of £500,000 to cover ACL's unpaid invoices.
Meanwhile, the club appears to have averted a bonus dispute with players that threaten to overshadow the start of the season. Somewhat incredibly, £1m in bonuses was paid out to players during the relegation season but changing the bonus structure would have seen some players taking an effective 80 per cent pay cut. Players were threatened with being transfer listed if they did not agree to a new deal.
The initial reaction from the players was hostile with a woeful performance at Wrexham and one sending an expletive-littered tweet. However, most of them have now accepted the new terms.