Ricoh Arena row: West Midlands mayor Andy Street mediated in Coventry City and Wasps talks

Ricoh Arena
The Ricoh Arena, initially built for Coventry City, is now owned by Premiership rugby union side Wasps

West Midlands mayor Andy Street acted as a mediator in the ongoing row between Coventry City and Ricoh Arena owners Wasps, BBC CWR has learned.

Despite talks that have gone on for months between the two clubs over City returning to the Ricoh, the Sky Blues last week agreed to stay in Birmingham for a second season at St Andrew's.

Street is disappointed that his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

But he has said he remains willing to help if the two clubs talk again.

"I can confirm that, over the last few months, I have been mediating the conversations between Sisu (Coventry's owners) and Wasps in an attempt to reach a deal that would see Coventry City Football Club back at the Ricoh Arena for next season and beyond," said Street in a statement to BBC CWR.

"To put it mildly, I am gutted that we have not achieved that aim.

"I believe strongly, as do all fans, that Coventry City should be playing its Championship football in its home city, not in neighbouring Birmingham.

"I tried my hardest to make that happen despite the differences between Sisu and Wasps.

"It was always going to be difficult, but I was determined to try and bring the two sides together to do what was best for the city."

'It is not my place to comment on why talks failed'

Street added: "All parties involved agreed the talks would remain private and confidential, and I fully intend to reflect that agreement. I will admit, however, that mediation brought the pair closer than ever before to a deal, which makes the final outcome even more frustrating.

"It is also not my place to comment on what caused the talks to ultimately fail, although I think it is fair to say this is a matter for Sisu and Wasps to resolve. I remain more than willing to mediate talks again if both sides wish.

"Finally, I would urge both parties to find a way to bring the football club back home. It is what the city, and its football fans, deserve."

Since moving from Highfield Road to the then half Coventry City Council-owned Ricoh Arena in 2005, the Sky Blues have twice opted to move elsewhere, first to Northampton in 2013, then to St Andrew's for the 2019-20 season.

League One champions Coventry, who have said that they have long-term ambitions to build a new home of their own on the south-west side of the city, will now remain at St Andrew's at least until the end of the 2020-21 season, in which they will be playing in the Championship, the same division as their landlords Birmingham City.