It has been announced today that the Supreme Court has refused an application from Otium Entertainment Limited, which trades as Coventry City FC, its parent company Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Limited and Arvo Master Fund, which holds a debenture over the assets of the football club.
The request was for a hearing to reverse earlier decisions in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Those judgements refused the application to bring a Judicial Review into the sale of shares owned by Coventry City Council in Arena Coventry Limited, with an extended lease of the Ricoh Arena, to Wasps Rugby in 2014.
Where does that leave Coventry City FC and its hopes of continuing to play at the Ricoh Arena? Let’s look at the basic facts of the situation.
- The only obstacle to the Sky Blues continuing to play at the Ricoh Arena has been this litigation. Wasps have been clear all along that, if the legal action is ceased permanently, they would enter into negotiations for CCFC to play at the Ricoh next season.
- While the application to the court has been in the names of entities that represent and fund the football club, it is the owners Sisu Capital Limited who have been the guiding hand in the action. They choose the Courts as the battlefield on which to pursue their grievance, this was not a process that was desired by either Coventry City Council or Wasps.
- Once Sisu had taken that course of action, the only opinions that count in deciding the rights and wrongs of what happened in 2014 are those of the Judges. Whatever we, you, the Applicants or Defendants, or anybody else thinks about those events is academic. It became a matter for the Judges to decide.
- Unanimously, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have rejected the case. It is not just that the Applicants have been unable to prove their case against the Council and Wasps, our understanding is that the Judges have ruled that there is no case to answer.
- Sisu also failed at all stages with a previous Judicial Review against Coventry City Council regarding the Ricoh Arena.
- This later application for a Judicial Review cannot be continued in the UK Courts.
- At this point, there have been no negotiations for CCFC to continue playing at the Ricoh, while court action has continued. The football club has no ground on which to play in Coventry after the end of this season.
- The EFL will meet in Extraordinary General Meeting of all 72 member clubs on 25th April to decide whether to expel Coventry City FC from the League if the club has no suitable ground at which to fulfill its home fixtures. As an alternative, if CCFC makes an application to play at a ground outside of the City, the other members may approve that move.
It seems therefore that Sisu’s legal strategy has failed. In proceeding this far, Sisu have been prepared to risk Coventry City’s very future in pursuit of legal action that has been defeated soundly at every stage.
Sisu may decide to take other steps. For example, they may have the opportunity to take their grievance to the European Courts. That is their right.
However, given the scale of the defeats suffered in the UK courts and the fact that the Football Club face the alternatives of Exile or Extinction in 9 days time if the legal action is not stopped, further legal action would in our view represent reckless endangerment of the Sky Blues.
As stewards of OUR football club, Sisu and its associates, Joy Seppala and Club Chairman, Tim Fisher, owe it to the whole Sky Blues Community and particularly to supporters, to drop any further legal action while there is still time to Save Our Sky Blues.
The Jimmy Hill Way Campaign