Coventry City: Sky Blues step up groundshare plan

Coventry City have revealed they are in groundshare talks with three rival Midlands clubs while they move ahead with plans for a new stadium.

Sky Blues chief executive Tim Fisher told a fans forum that the League One club are working closely on the proposal with the Football League.

"There are three clubs we're in talks with," he said. "We're sharpening the pencil on final numbers."

Nothing can happen, however, until the club is taken out of administration.

"We've kept the Football League absolutely appraised of where we are," said Fisher.

"But whatever, the Football League will not allow any groundshare to be agreed or sanctioned until this football club is out of administration.

The Sky Blues saga . . .

BBC Midlands Today's Nick Clitheroe offers his latest analysis of the long-running feud between Coventry City and their Ricoh Arena landlords:

"It is going to be a very worrying summer for Coventry City fans. They don't know where the club will be playing next season, when they will be able to buy season tickets, whether they can sign any new players and even whether the club will survive this turmoil.

"It is clear that the majority of supporters will not follow the team to groundshare at Walsall, or wherever they end up. Many of them might accept the idea of staying at the Ricoh for the next three years and then moving into a new stadium in the Coventry area but the relationship between the arena's owners and the club is so bitter it's hard to see how a compromise can be reached.

"There is also little chance of a quick resolution to the issue of the ownership of the club. This will almost certainly end up being decided by the courts because no matter who the administrator picks as a buyer for CCFC Ltd, that will be challenged by one of the other parties involved."

"That is the key to all of this, getting out of administration."

City, who have been in administration since a High Court hearing in March, reached the deadline set for any party interested in taking over the troubled club to make an offer on Friday.

So far, administrator Paul Appleton has been approached by an Asian consortium and a group headed by American tycoon Preston Haskell IV.

The two parties are bidding to buy Coventry City FC Limited, the division of the club that Appleton and the Football League believe holds the Golden Share.

After being put into administration, the club was automatically deducted 10 points by the League, costing them any chance of promotion.

However, current owners Sisu argue that Coventry City Holdings Ltd, which is not in administration, holds the club's assets, including staff contracts and the Golden Share.

Fisher, who remains insistent that the club is not for sale and that Sisu have a long-term vision for the club, met with jeers from supporters in the room for the forum at a local hotel.

Having faced questions for more than an hour from supporters angry at the plans to leave the Ricoh and groundshare for three seasons, he admitted it was a major commercial risk.

He believes that the club are likely to attract at best only 6,000, less than half of last season's average home gate, to follow them elsewhere and at worst, only 3,000.

Fisher revealed the three league clubs who have been spoken to are all within a 30-mile radius of Coventry.

And he told supporters that, unless they are put on a sustainable basis by owning their own stadium, there is a real risk that the club will spiral down and down.

He also warned that the longer City stay in administration, the greater the risk is that the club "will be impaired permanently" and that there was a real danger they could "turn into a Portsmouth".

Additional reporting by Nick Clitheroe (BBC Midlands Today) and Clive Eakin (BBC Coventry & Warwickshire).