Reports suggest that the Football League is set to approve a move that will see Coventry City play their home games at Northampton Town’s Sixfields in a ground-sharing agreement.
The Sky Blues look set to leave the Ricoh Arena and travel 34 miles to play their home games in Northampton after negotiations between club owners SISU and Arena Coventry Limited – the owners of the Ricoh Arena – broke-down, forcing the club to look at alternative options.
The club were recently bought out of administration by SISU-backed Otium Entertainment Limited, and immediately talks began with Northampton and Coventry chief executive Tim Fisher about the potential to share the ground.
Should the deal be ratified by the Football League – which it is expected to do so in the next 24 hours – it will see Coventry leave their 32,609 capacity stadium and move to the 7,653 capacity Sixfields for the beginning of this season.
There were also rumours of a deal to be in discussion with Walsall, though concerns were raised over whether the pitch could cope with the demands that two teams playing regularly would cause.
The feud between the club and the stadium owners has been well publicised over the last year, and it led to yet more wrangling between the parties with SISU instigating a judicial review in the High Court against Coventry City Council, who are part-owners of ACL, for trying to 'wrest control' and 'economically damage' them.
It led to the club withholding the £1 million-a-year rent owed to the landlords, and with the two at loggerheads over the rent, the club was placed into administration. Coventry suffered a ten-point deduction last season, destroying any hopes of reaching the League One play-offs.
Cobblers chairman David Cardoza spoke to BBC Radio Northampton and confirmed that there is a basis to these reports, though the deal is far from done.
"There's some legs in this, but it's not near done and dusted," he told the radio station.
"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."
The new owners are looking at plans to build a new stadium complex on three brownfield sites outside of the jurisdiction of Coventry City Council, but adminis
Coventry's supporters group the Sky Blue Trust are believed to be outraged at the decision, and they have organised a planned protest outside Sixfields later today.
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."
The news has been greeted in an obvious negative fashion by former players and fans of the clubs, with former Coventry striker Darren Huckerby tweeting: “Can you play your home games 35 miles away from home? Coventry City will slowly be destroyed, owners should hang their heads in shame.”
The agreement would also kick-up an issue in terms of fixtures, with both sides clashing on a number of days that would need to be addressed before the start of the season, with both their campaigns set to kick-off at home on August 10.
COVENTRY CITY FIRST SIX HOME MATCHES
August 10 - Bristol City
August 24 - Preston North End
September 7 - Colchester United
September 14 - Gillingham
September 28 - Brentford
October 12 - Sheffield United
NORTHAMPTON FIRST SIX HOME MATCHES
August 10 - Newport County
August 24 - Torquay United
September 7 - Scunthorpe United
September 14 - Exeter City
September 28 - Morecambe
October 19 - Dagenham and Redbridge
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