Coventry fans to protest against groundshare plan

Coventry fans don't fancy too many trips to Northampton. Photo: PA

Supporters' group the Sky Blue Trust have responded to reports that Coventry will groundshare with Northampton for the next three years by organising a protest outside Sixfields Stadium this evening.

Sky Blues chief executive Tim Fisher in May revealed plans to move into a new stadium having claimed City had been given no choice but to leave the Ricoh Arena as their lengthy and bitter rent row rumbles on, with a proposal to play 'home' games elsewhere on an interim basis while it is being built.

Unconfirmed reports are now stating that a groundshare has been agreed and Coventry, from the start of the forthcoming 2013/14 campaign, will play at 7,600 capacity Sixfields - 34 miles and 39 minutes away across the M6 and down the M1 - with Town's home matches taking precedence.

Today's developments come as League Two Northampton have also agreed a £12million deal with Northampton Borough Council to redevelop Sixfields, increasing the capacity to around 10,000 along with the addition of a hotel, corporate boxes and a conference centre - with the new-look stadium hoped to ready next summer.

Yet, Cobblers chairman David Cardoza insists a groundshare agreement is far from complete amid speculation the Football League are meeting today to discuss the move.

"There's some legs in this, but it's not near done and dusted," he told BBC Radio Northampton.

"As soon as it is or isn't I will let everybody know. It's speculation at the minute, but we'll see where this goes. I'm a little bit surprised about some of the stuff that's been said."

League One City are understood to be closing in on a site in the Coventry area to build their new stadium, just eight years after first moving from Highfield Road and becoming tenants at the 32,600 capacity Ricoh Arena.

The proposals has been met with fury and disappointment from the vast majority of Coventry supporters, with over 13,000 people having signed a local petition to keep City in Coventry.

And The Sky Blue Trust are holding a protest outside Sixfields at 5.30pm today to make their objections clear.

Trust spokesman Moz Baker explained: "We know supporters overwhelmingly oppose any move out of Coventry and the Trust's view is simple: it is unthinkable that CCFC play home games outside the city in which we were founded and is our home.

"Large numbers of fans will not attend 'home' games that are not played at the Ricoh Arena. A move away from Coventry will have a hugely detrimental effect on CCFC and while the owners suggest the move will be 'temporary' and a 'new' ground will be built, there is no evidence of a planning application for a new stadium being submitted never mind permission being obtained."

Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Arena on behalf of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council, have insisted throughout the process that they remain committed to keeping the club at the stadium.

The row first hit the headlines in December when ACL issued a statutory demand for £1.1million in unpaid rent stretching back 10 months, with Coventry claiming their annual rate of £1.28m was extortionate while also bemoaning the fact they do not get access to 100 per cent of matchday revenue.

Last Thursday, Otium Entertainment Group Limited completed their purchase for the assets of Coventry City Football Club Limited.

Joint-administrator Paul Appleton announced Otium had emerged successful amid four final bidders for CCFC Ltd, the part of the club placed in administration by hedge fund owners Sisu in March.

The decision, again, was met with anger by the majority of Sky Blues supporters as the company is related to Coventry City Football Club (Holdings), which has continued to operate under Sisu.

The Football League are still to rubber stamp the deal while Appleton has recently issued his proposals for creditors to sign a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), with CCFC Ltd remaining in administration for the time being at least.