Birmingham & Black Country

Coventry City's owner in new legal row with council

Ricoh Arena Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Coventry council leader George Duggins said the council was prepared to fight Sisu in court over the Ricoh sale

Fresh legal proceedings are being launched by Coventry City FC's owner against the city council over the sale of the Ricoh Arena.

It is the second time Sisu will take the council to court. A judicial review previously found for the council.

The row concerns the council's sale of its 50% share in the arena to Wasps Rugby Club in 2014.

Coventry council leader George Duggins said they would "meet the challenge in court". Sisu has not yet commented.

The row stems back to 2012 when the club was taken to court by then-stadium operator ACL over an unpaid rent bill, which resulted in the Sky Blues played home games at Northampton Town's ground for the 2013-14 season.

The club's owners said the rent was too high and should be renegotiated, but weeks later the council loaned £14m in public funds to ACL saying it was protecting an asset for the city.

'£750k legal bill'

Sisu questioned the legality of the council's move, but it was upheld by a judicial review in 2014 and in December 2016, the Supreme Court said there were no grounds to appeal.

The city council said it had been notified of Sisu's latest proceedings. It is understood Sisu will argue it was not offered the same terms as Wasps over the sale of the ground.

Mr Duggins said there was a "substantial legal bill" from the first judicial review for £750,000 which he said "will be on its way to the owners".

In a statement, the club said: "Coventry City FC does not pay any attention to, or concern itself with, off-pitch legal matters.

'Stay within the law'

"The football club is solely concentrated on matters on the pitch, and securing enough points to maintain our League One status beyond the current season."

The latest development comes after fans were arrested following a pitch protest over the way the club is run.

Mr Duggins told fans: "Continue the protest, if you must do, you have public opinion on your side - not just in Coventry but nationally - but don't spoil that by stepping outside the law"

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