Over the past 7 days, the Sky Blue Trust and the Jimmy Hill Way Campaign have been actively lobbying MPs on behalf of the whole Sky Blues Community, in light of the increasingly worrying impasse over Coventry City’s future at the Ricoh Arena.
After tomorrow’s match against AFC Wimbledon, just 9 home games remain under the current agreement for our football team to play at the stadium that was built for our club.
The text of the initial communication from Roger Ellis (Secretary of the Sky Blue Trust) to MPs was as follows:
Once again, I am writing on behalf of the Sky Blue Trust, the largest independent group of Coventry City supporters, with almost 3000 members. I hope you will recall that I contacted you in December 2017 on this subject, which has become a recurring nightmare for Sky Blues fans.
Following the home match against Southend United on Saturday 29th December, Coventry City now have only 10 League One matches scheduled to be played at the Ricoh Arena before the end of the current season. The agreement which allows such games to be played at the Arena expires at the end of the season, having been extended for 12 months last year.
That extension by landlords, Wasps Rugby Club, came with a clear warning. You will recall that Otium Entertainment Group Ltd, Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd and ARVO Master Fund Limited are taking court proceedings against Coventry City Council and Wasps. Essentially that legal action is pursued by Coventry City’s owners, Sisu Capital Limited using the club as its vehicle. Wasps therefore stated that if litigation was continued, there would be no further provision of the Ricoh facility for the football club, beyond May 2019. Sisu have lost their case, in which they seek a Judicial Review into the “sale” of the Ricoh by Coventry City Council to Wasps, in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Nonetheless, they are seeking the right to take the matter before the Supreme Court. It is unlikely that a decision on this question will be announced for several weeks.
Coventry City are therefore just 10 games away from homelessness. Unless a suitable home ground, which meets all the relevant standards, can be secured before the end of the 2018/19 season, Coventry City may cease to exist. I hope that you will still share the strong wish of Sky Blues fans everywhere that the Club must be enabled to play their home games in the City of Coventry beyond the end of the current season. The only feasible solution, as now admitted by the football club after years of posturing alternatives, is the Ricoh Arena.
We therefore request your further intervention in this matter in conjunction with your fellow Coventry and Warwickshire MPs to whom I have also written. I realise that all MPs have the EU Withdrawal Bill as an upcoming priority. However, as Coventry City supporters are increasingly alarmed about the growing urgency of this matter, please could I have your response to this message by Friday 11th January, if at all possible?
This letter and similar emails from the Jimmy Hill Way have already received prompt and positive responses from the following parliamentary representatives:
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Shadow Minister for Sport)
and an acknowledgement from the office of Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. We are confident of further support from other local MPs, including Mr Wright, in the next few days.
Further communication from us has requested that individual and collective approaches are made by the MPs to ALL parties who are relevant to the immediate problem of the Ricoh agreement. In particular:
Wasps Rugby Club
Coventry City Council
with specific suggestions appropriate to each party and detailed briefings on the situation generally.
While Members of Parliament have no power to resolve this dispute, they do have considerable ability to influence and persuade, particularly when they act collectively on a cross-party basis. In this situation, they are independent from any of the protagonists and we are convinced of their intent to represent the best interests of Sky Blues Supporters. We believe that the intervention of our MPs represents the greatest chance of resolving the dispute, so that the Sky Blues can continue playing at the Ricoh and that we all have a club to support for years to come.
We wish to express our sincere gratitude for their involvement and our dearest hopes for their success. News of first steps, initiated by Jim Cunningham MP, are expected very soon.