Football

Richard Keys says Mike Ashley’s deal for Coventry City’s stadium is a ‘fair one’

Richard Keys believes Mike Ashley’s deal for Coventry City’s stadium is a ‘fair one’ despite the Championship club being served with an eviction notice.

The club issued a statement on Monday saying the Frasers Group – run by former Newcastle United owner Ashley – have told them a new licence must be agreed to continue playing at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

Coventry were surprised by the decision as they have a licence to play there until 2031 but Frasers Group said the existing agreement didn’t mirror the terms they’d agreed with the stadium’s former owners.

Keys, who works as a presenter for BeIN Sports in Qatar, tweeted: ‘The deal Mike Ashley has offered Coventry to play at CBS Arena is a fair one.

‘It would require the club not to fall into arrears again. Ownership issues at Cov are a joke. Ashley can flush out the chancers. If he ends up owning the club he’ll have my backing.’

The Sky Blues, currently 12th in the Championship table, signed their current licence when the stadium was owned by Wasps rugby club – who went into administration back in October.

Coventry City have been issued with an eviction notice from the new owners of their stadium

Coventry City have been issued with an eviction notice from the new owners of their stadium

The Frasers Group - run by ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley (left) - are said to have told the club that they must agree a new licence to continue at the Coventry Building Society Arena

The Frasers Group – run by ex-Newcastle owner Mike Ashley (left) – are said to have told the club that they must agree a new licence to continue at the Coventry Building Society Arena

They are next due to play at home against Swansea on December 17 though the BBC reported the Frasers would give them a ‘reasonable amount of time’ to remove property from the CBS Arena.

‘Coventry City can confirm that it received an eviction notice from Frasers Group, new owners of the Coventry Building Society Arena, on Friday afternoon,’ a club statement read.

‘Following the Frasers Group acquisition of the stadium from administrators, Coventry City have been told that we must agree a new licence to play at the Arena.

‘We were surprised to learn of this intention by Frasers Group, given that discussions with Coventry City prior to the completion of their purchase of the Arena led us to understand the existing terms would continue unchanged with Frasers Group as the new owners of the Arena.

‘Coventry City Football Club has an existing long-term licence to play at the Arena, which was agreed in March 2021 to run until 2031.

Richard Keys claimed the deal Mike Ashley has offered Coventry is a 'fair one' and would 'flush out the chancers' apparently involved at the club

Richard Keys claimed the deal Mike Ashley has offered Coventry is a ‘fair one’ and would ‘flush out the chancers’ apparently involved at the club

BeIN Sport presenter Keys has come out in favour of Ashley controlling the Sky Blues

BeIN Sport presenter Keys has come out in favour of Ashley controlling the Sky Blues 

‘Frasers Group have now presented to Coventry City a new agreement with new commercial terms, which have been presented to us without any dialogue or negotiations, and are less favourable to the football club. In addition, this licence would only run until May 2023.

‘Frasers Group have said they would negotiate for beyond May 2023, but this leaves us without the security and certainty that our current deal provides to us and our fans.’

The statement added they are happy to continue under the terms of the current licence in place and that they hope the Fraser Group will act on ‘their words’ that they ‘look forward to working with Coventry City’. 

The Frasers in their own statement said: ‘Frasers has, throughout all its involvement with the stadium, been supportive of securing the long-term future of CCFC (Coventry City football club) playing its games at the stadium. This position remains unchanged.

Coventry, who are 12th in the Championship, face the prospect of being homeless again

Coventry, who are 12th in the Championship, face the prospect of being homeless again

‘Prior to acquiring the stadium, Frasers issued a new licence mirroring the terms CCFC had agreed with the previous owners. However, CCFC chose not to sign it at that time.

‘A revised proposal, together with a new licence, has been issued to CCFC and will secure the immediate future of CCFC at the stadium. 

‘Signing the licence would allow for more detailed discussions to take place about CCFC’s long-term arrangements at the stadium, including to accommodate a number of requests which were raised by CCFC.

‘Frasers looks forward to working with the club to host the upcoming games.’

Last month, the club agreed, subject to EFL approval, to sell a majority stake to local businessman Doug King who will buy an 85 per cent stake in the Sky Blues.

Coventry had to relocate home games earlier in the season because of a damaged pitch

Coventry had to relocate home games earlier in the season because of a damaged pitch

The deal involves clearing all of the club’s current debts and Coventry had planned  to make an equity bid to buy the stadium, following the administration of former owners Wasps but lost out to Ashley.

It is the latest stadium issue the Sky Blues have suffered with the club having played in Northampton for a year in 2013-14 and spent two seasons at St Andrew’s in Birmingham until 2021.

They also played seven of their first eight games away from home this season after the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens tournament damaged the pitch.


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