‘We’re in a battle for survival after rent demand’
Coventry City, founder members of the Premier League but now languishing in the third tier of English soccer, said on Wednesday that they needed to move from their Ricoh Arena home in order to survive.
The club were responding to a demand from the stadium's owners Arena Coventry Ltd (ACL) to pay its rent arrears or face being wound up.
"We are disappointed by ACL's actions today to issue a statutory demand to Coventry City Football Club rather than, as we had requested, sitting down with us to negotiate a level of rent which the club can afford and which is in line with the rent paid by other clubs," Coventry said in a statement on their website (www.ccfc.co.uk).
"The Club remains committed to the city and people of Coventry...its viability depends on it finding an alternative home ground where it can afford to play."
Coventry, who memorably won the 1987 FA Cup final by beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 after extra time at Wembley, moved out of Highfield Road, their home since 1899, and into the all-seater 32 500 capacity Ricoh Arena in 2005.
The Ricoh was one of the host venues for the 2012 London Olympics tournament but the club said on Wednesday that its annual rent of £1.28 million was the highest for any team outside the top-flight.
"We understand that the average annual rent paid by League One (third division) clubs (excluding CCFC) is less than £170,000 and that the average in the Championship (second division) is less than £290,000 .
Coventry were relegated from Premier League in 2001 - ending 34 seasons in the top tier - and were demoted to League One at the end of last season.