A judge has ruled that Coventry City Council did not act irrationally by loaning more than £14million of taxpayers' money to the company which runs the city's Ricoh Arena - a company in which the council itself is a shareholder.
The loan was needed after SISU, the owners of Coventry City Football Club, stopped paying rent on the stadium, saying it was too high. SISU claimed in court the council loan was equivalent to state aid, and was unlawful. Andy Bevan reports.
Coventry City's supporters are calling on both sides in the dispute over the Ricoh Arena to get back to the business of football.
Moz Baker, from the Sky Blues Trust says all fans want is the club back playing football in Coventry, at the Ricoh Arena.
The Chief Executive of Coventry City FC, Tim Fisher, has criticised the loan given to the owners of the RIcoh Arena, ACL, by Coventry City Council.
It comes on the day that a judge has ruled that the loan is not unlawful.
Coventry City Council says their purchase of the mortgage for the Ricoh Arena is not costing the taxpayer any money.
The leader of the council, Ann Lucas, says they are effectively the bankers for Arena Coventry Ltd, who own the ground, so they are making money on the loan given to them to keep the stadium running.
Supporters group the Sky Blue Trust are calling on both the football club and Coventry City Council to put their differences aside and move forward together.
In their statement they urge everyone to stop wasting time, energy and money.
Following Justice Hickinbottom's High Court ruling that Coventry City Councils decision to lend ACL 14.4m was not unlawful, we urge all sides in this unfortunate, bitter and unproductive dispute to put it and all past differences aside and to move forward together.
Stop wasting time, energy and money on legal actions and to start working together to find a solution that ensures the Sky Blues kick off the new season at the Ricoh Arena..
There are no winners in this sorry saga only losers, especially the supporters of Coventry City FC. For the sake of these long suffering fans bring our team home to Coventry now.
Coventry City Council say they're 'delighted' that a judge has found that claims they behaved irrationally by loaning the owners of the Ricoh stadium millions of taxpayers money were totally invalid.
We are delighted that the judge has found the claimants’ grounds for bringing the JR are totally invalid.
The decision was taken in order to protect an important asset – the Ricoh Arena – which belongs to the people of Coventry. We had no choice about defending this decision in the courts..
We have taken no pleasure in finding ourselves in court defending our decision and in having to spend council taxpayers money defending a legal challenge from SISU. We have always wanted to see the Sky Blues playing back at the Ricoh, the club’s rightful home.
Our door remains open – to the football club, to anyone who wants to talk to us about the future of the Ricoh Arena. We will always listen, and make our choices based on what’s best for the city, not on what works for the interests of one group.
Coventry City Football Club say they will appeal the judge's ruling that the council's decision to provide a £14.4 million loan of taxpayers money to the owners of the Ricoh Arena was not irrational.
The Club's owners claimed the loan from Coventry City Council amounted to unlawful state aid and they shouldn't have agreed the deal.
The football club and its owners believe that the loan, which exceeded the value of the stadium by almost 200%, was neither lawful nor in the interests of the supporters, taxpayers, stadium operators or the Club.
ACL will now remain burdened with debt for the next 43 years, removing any prospect of a long term return to the stadium by the Club. With this level of debt there is no realistic prospect of any sports franchise or ACL being able to generate sufficient revenue to be commercially viable.
We will apply for leave to appeal this decision."
A judge has ruled that Coventry City Council did not act irrationally by loaning the owners of Coventry City Football Club's stadium £14.4 million of taxpayers' money.
More to follow...
Judge rules Coventry City Council did not act irrationally by loaning £14.4miliion of taxpayers' money to the company which owns Ricoh Arena
Documents have been released which raise questions about why Coventry City Council spent millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, taking on the mortgage debts of the city's Ricoh Arena.
The decision was taken last year, while ACL, the company which owns the stadium, was involved in a bitter row with Coventry City Football Club over rent.
New details about the process has led one group of Sky Blues supporters to set up a political party to stand in local elections, to try to question the council further. Darryl Murphy has been investigating.
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