1. ITV Report

Coventry City in advanced talks with Walsall FC over plans to temporarily play at their stadium

Ricoh Arena. Photo: PA

Sources at Coventry City have told ITV News the club is in ‘advanced talks’ about building a new ground and is planning on playing at Walsall’s Banks’ Stadium whilst it is being built.

Coventry City Holdings Ltd (CCFC Holdings Ltd) are believed to be finalising the details, as part of a plan to re-take full control of the football club, after a part of it went into administration in March.

Bosses at CCFC Holdings Ltd, which appears to control players and staff, say the Sky Blues will not be going back to the Ricoh Arena, after a long-running dispute over rent.

It is understood that negotiations are close to being completed to purchase a new site, which would open in 2016 and is in the Coventry area.

Initially, capacity at the ground would be around 15,000. The stadium’s design would allow it to be expanded at a later date. This would happen in two phases after it has opened. Once completed, the idea is for the ground to have a suitable number of seats for a Premier League club.

ITV News has been told that club owners Sisu are confident they can afford the new stadium and that it can ‘pay for itself’. Other facilities designed to bring in revenues would be built on the site. It is claimed the majority of matchday profits, (food, beverage, parking etc), would be spent on the playing squad.

The deal has not been done yet, but club sources say there are various other sites in the Coventry area which would also be suitable. In the meantime, talks for the Sky Blues to play for the next three years at Walsall’s Banks’ Stadium, are ongoing and are said to be close to completion. This has been confirmed by sources at both the Sky Blues and the Saddlers. It is also understood that Coventry have been speaking to other clubs in the West Midlands.

Credit: ITV News Central

Meanwhile, a part of the Sky Blues, Coventry City Ltd (CCFC Ltd), which owes the Ricoh Arena around £600,000 in unpaid rent is still in administration. Sisu are understood to have put in a bid to purchase the company and appear confident they will succeed in reunifying the club.

At least three other buyers have expressed an interest in purchasing CCFC Ltd. One of them is a consortium led by American property tycoon Preston Haskell IV. However, after nine weeks, the administrator for CCFC Ltd has not been able to clarify what the company consists of exactly. This uncertainty could make the company less attractive to other buyers such as Haskell, who would then have to recruit players and staff - and purchase a share of the Ricoh Arena. CCFC Ltd also has debts of around £70m.

Sources at Coventry City say club bosses will first outline their plans at a series of fan meetings which will be held over the next few weeks.

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