Coventry to host Olympic football

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The Independent Online

Coventry City's Ricoh Arena has been chosen as the Midlands venue to host football at the 2012 Olympic Games.

The announcement comes after Villa Park was ruled out due to planned building work and means all venues are now in place for the London Games.

The stadium will temporarily be renamed the City of Coventry Stadium for the duration of the Games and all of the branding will be removed.

London 2012 chair Lord Coe said: "The City of Coventry Stadium is a great venue, and will be an excellent host for football matches for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"It is ideally located in the centre of England and the city already has strong links with London 2012. I congratulate Coventry and extend my thanks to all the Midlands clubs who applied to be a venue.

"All were a very good standard, and this shows the excellent standards of football stadia in this country."

Sport and the Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said: "Sitting at the heart of the Midlands, the City of Coventry Stadium is ideally located for thousands of people to come and watch the London 2012 football competition and be inspired to get involved in sport."

The ground will now host the qualifiers for the Olympic football competition.

The schedule of matches to be held in Coventry is still to be finalised.

Hampden Park in Glasgow, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Old Trafford in Manchester, Newcastle's St James' Park and Wembley Stadium are the other 2012 football grounds.

Ricoh Arena chief executive Daniel Gidney said: "We are looking forward enormously to staging Olympic football in Coventry.

"This is a great honour and we are proud to be involved with the Games.

"We have worked hard over the last few months to prepare our bid."

David Moorcroft, chair of the West Midlands Leadership Group for the 2012 Games, described the announcement as "fantastic news" adding: "It is a real boost for the region and for Coventry as it will bring real economic benefit as the Olympic teams and their fans visit the city.

"Personally, as I am Coventry born and bred, I am delighted to see my home city identified as a venue and look forward to experiencing part of the 2012 Games as it takes place on my doorstep."

Coventry City Council chief executive Martin Reeves said: "2012 promises to be an outstanding year for the city.

"As well as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we'll be marking the 50th anniversary of the consecration of Coventry Cathedral, and there's an important link between the city's strong message of peace and reconciliation symbolised by the Cathedral, and the spirit of respect, fairness and sporting competition."