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Wasps' groundshare talks to continue

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Wasps and Coventry City in advanced talks over groundshare extension

Since Wasps relocated to Coventry in 2014, they have been sharing the Ricoh Arena with the local football club, Coventry City.

The 32,000-seater stadium has played host to Coventry since it was built in 2005, but there has been long-standing animosity between the club’s owners, SISU Capital, and Arena Coventry Ltd, the company who operated the stadium before Wasps bought out the shareholders at ACL.

There has been legal action taken and it even saw Coventry briefly play their home games at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium, before Coventry returned to the Ricoh in 2014 shortly prior to Wasps acquiring the stadium during their relocation to the city.

Wasps have seen a dramatic rise in their revenues since moving to the Ricoh, with the club also benefiting from the casino and exhibition hall, as well as from using the stadium as a music venue. The club also benefits from a rental agreement that Coventry have to play at the stadium.

If no deal can be reached to extend Coventry’s license to play at the Ricoh, it could see the League One club expelled from the Football League, but it seems as if talks have moved on and Coventry are confident of securing their future at the stadium.

A statement from Coventry read: “We have worked closely with Shaun Harvey and the EFL over a long period of time on this matter, and are grateful to the EFL Board for giving us the extra time needed to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion, which would see Coventry City continue to play its fixtures in Coventry.

“We can confirm that Coventry City Football Club has started initial discussions with Wasps Holdings Limited regarding an extension to our current license agreement to play at the Ricoh Arena.

“We can also confirm that a Heads of Terms agreement has been signed to ground-share at an alternative venue. However, the timescales involved with this option means that a deal with Wasps will need to be concluded very quickly, otherwise our option with the alternative venue will be lost.

“We want to conclude this matter as soon as possible, with the continued aim of Coventry City playing at the Ricoh Arena, and will work extremely hard in the next few days to that end.”

Speaking to CoventryLive, Wasps issued the following statement.

“We can confirm we have started initial discussions with Coventry City FC regarding an extension to their current license agreement to play at the Ricoh Arena.

“There are still a number of issues to resolve and any agreement is subject to contract and the approval of Wasps Holdings Limited Board.  We are not able to comment any further due to a mutually-signed confidentiality agreement.”

Following the announcement that London Irish would be taking up a ground-share with Brentford at the new Brentford Community Stadium in 2020, Wasps are one of just four clubs under the Premier Rugby Limited umbrella who groundshare, with the others being Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons, both of whom share their grounds with rugby league clubs.

With Wasps under investigation from the Financial Conduct Authority for statements relating to the retail bond scheme the club launched in 2015, an inability to generate enough revenue to pay back the scheme and mounting losses and debt, it could spell trouble for the Gallagher Premiership club if they also lose the revenue they are able to call on from Coventry’s use of the stadium.

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Wasps and Coventry City in advanced talks over groundshare extension