Coventry return to Ricoh Arena

  • Last Updated: August 21 2014, 12:10 BST

Coventry will return to the Ricoh Arena after more than a year playing in Northampton, the club have confirmed.

Coventry will return to the Ricoh Arena
Coventry will return to the Ricoh Arena

The Sky Blues are expected to make their home comeback next month, when they are due to host Gillingham in Sky Bet League 1.

Coventry had moved to Sixfields in 2013 after a dispute with stadium owners ACL, when the club started to withhold rent payments they believed to be unreasonable in 2012.

But they have struck a deal after talks between lawyers acting for club owners Sisu and ACL, and the move has now been rubber-stamped by the Football League.

Steve Waggott, development director at Coventry, said: "We are delighted to get this deal done and I am sure every supporter of Coventry will be thrilled with this news.

"We are under no illusion what a difficult 12 months it has been for the supporters and that was uppermost in our thinking as we worked to get this deal done.

"There has had to be compromise on both sides and the commercial details of the deal will remain confidential.

"Now it is all about looking forward to a really exciting season back in the community and with a real chance of success. I am sure every supporter will want to give Steven Pressley, his staff and players their full backing for the season at the Ricoh.

"Logistically, it's going to mean a huge amount of work between now and the first game back and we would ask supporters to bear with us as all of our efforts up to now have been in getting this deal over the line to get us back to Coventry as soon as possible.

"We will announce details around tickets, season tickets and other information as soon as we can next week but we hope to be back at the Ricoh for the clash with Gillingham. We will keep supporters fully informed of progress to that aim.

"Can I also take this opportunity of thanking Chris Robinson, Chair of ACL, for the professional manner he has conducted our lengthy discussions to reach this agreement."

Robinson said: "Everyone at ACL looks forward to delivering a top quality service to the club and the fans."

ACL had previously said it would not discuss a return until it received money owed by the club after they went into administration last year.

But Coventry owners Sisu paid ACL £471,192 via the Football League last week, with the money some payment towards compensation and unpaid rent.

The Sky Blues then agreed a three-year groundshare deal with Northampton - 35 miles away - with an option of a further two years, and their first game at Sixfields was a 5-4 victory over Bristol City in August 2013.

Northampton will be due compensation after the early end of the deal.

Coventry added: "Coventry City have kept Northampton fully informed and would like to thank the club for its hospitality over the last 12 months."

The Football League's chief executive, Shaun Harvey, welcomed the news the Sky Blues will return home on a two-year deal, with the option of an extra two years.

Harvey said: "Getting the two parties to this point has taken a significant amount of work over a lengthy period of time by everyone involved in this process. However, the majority of the credit should go to Coventry City and ACL, who have now agreed a mutually acceptable way forward.

"When the Football League Board gave its consent to Coventry City playing its matches in Northampton, it did so with this outcome in mind. It ensured that the club could continue to fulfil its fixtures, and thereby remain in The Football League, while all parties focussed on resolving this complex commercial dispute.

"While we understand that the Board's decision led to a significant amount of dissatisfaction amongst Coventry supporters, we would not be where we are today without it. On this basis alone, this very difficult decision has now been justified.

"I hope today is viewed as a new beginning for all the parties and that Sky Blues supporters can transfer the passion and energy they have put into their campaigning back into watching their club play in Coventry."