Northampton will not be 'bullied' in groundshare deal with Coventry

Ricoh Arena management Arena Coventry Limited have threatened legal action as stadium dispute rumbles on

Northampton have said they will not be “bullied” after claiming to have been threatened with legal action over plans to groundshare with Coventry at Sixfields Stadium next season.

Coventry's request to play their 'home' fixtures at Sixfields for the next three seasons was reluctantly approved by the Football League earlier this week.

The Sky Blues announced plans to move into a new stadium in May, claiming they had been given no choice but to leave the Ricoh Arena due to a protracted and bitter rent row with stadium management company Arena Coventry Limited (ACL).

The groundshare has been met with anger from the vast majority of Coventry supporters, who must travel 34 miles across the M6 and down the M1 to watch 'home' games, while ACL had called on the Football League to block the proposal, insisting home fixtures should be played at the Ricoh Arena.

Despite the Football League's decision to back the move, it would appear ACL are not about to give up the fight.

A brief club statement on Northampton's official website read: "Northampton Town Football Club confirms that Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) has threatened the club with legal action in respect of Coventry City FC playing at Sixfields Stadium.

"The club was approached by Coventry City to play at Sixfields, so that Coventry City could fulfil its fixtures. The Football League has endorsed this arrangement.

"The threatened action by ACL is without any legal merit and is not conducive to the greater good of the game.

"Northampton Town Football Club will not be bullied or threatened."

While the initial groundshare agreement is for three seasons while Coventry's new ground is being built, it could stretch to as many as five.

City chief executive Tim Fisher, however, is planning for a brighter long-term future away from the Ricoh Arena and has revealed the club are closing in on exclusivity on two potential sites in the local area on which they intend to build their new stadium.

He told Press Association Sport: "We've got a small number of sites which we are negotiating with, we are looking to get into exclusivity. Within the next week for sure for one, and potentially the second within a week as well.

"It will be in the Coventry area, we've got a number of sites both in the north and all around the Coventry boundary. They are very, very close.

"Ideally I'd like to get exclusivity on two, simply because it gives you the right to exclusive negotiation to close them and, frankly, you don't go into the final furlong of a horse race (with one), you want to get two lined up.

"Then we'll have the whole development of the scheme, the masterplan and all the commissioning that will be required.

"On Friday, we've got the beauty parade of architects, we've got the highways consultant - we are pushing like crazy."

Fisher, who plans to bring Coventry fans on board for full consultation, added: "The model is Rotherham's New York Stadium, it's a great stadium. It's modular so it grows as the club grows.

"Attendance? Around 18,000, and I will argue that 18,000 is enough. Then if things go well over time, it grows.

"Also, all around the bottom of the site, we want to add a scheme and that is going to be where the real value is in this because there will be a mix of commercial, residential - again, depending on the final site we go with.

"And this is why I really like Rotherham United's model because it's set up so they're building a hotel, it's by the river Rother where it's designated as regeneration so built into the bottom of the stadium are retail units, cafes, you name it, it's brilliant."

PA

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