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'We're now desperate': Latest Coventry statement on pitch at Wasps

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images)

The very public squabble between Coventry City FC and Wasps over the qualify of the Building Society Arena pitch has taken another twist following the postponement of another scheduled football at the stadium. The tenant football club have been up in arms about not being able to use the ground as planned due to the damage suffered by the turf after it hosted the Commonwealth Games Rugby 7s a fortnight ago.

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Last Sunday’s Championship match versus Rotherham was postponed while last Wednesday’s Carabao Cup home tie with Bristol City was moved to Burton’s ground more than 40 miles away. The situation resulted in a sternly-worded midweek statement being released by Wasps CEO Stephen Vaughan.

“It is extremely disappointing to yet again be defending ourselves against rumour and accusation, particularly as it’s the supporters of CCFC and Wasps who are having to deal with the fallout,” it read. “We won’t be getting involved in a protracted, public discussion about this, which serves no one’s interest, but felt we needed to ensure people had the correct information.”

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Vaughan’s words didn’t alleviate the tension, however, and Coventry released their latest statement on Saturday after it was confirmed that next Tuesday’s home league game versus Wigan had now also fallen victim to the unplayable Wasps pitch.

Their statement read: “Coventry City are very disappointed to have to provide a further update regarding the pitch at the Coventry Building Society Arena and to confirm the postponement of Tuesday’s home game against Wigan Athletic.

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“On Thursday, an independent internationally established research and agronomy company, appointed by the EFL, evaluated the pitch at the Arena. They have experience at a range of international tournaments and stadiums in the UK and abroad. It was their finding that the pitch would not be safe or playable for Tuesday’s game against Wigan.

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“We had been hopeful that, following the postponements of the last week, that the pitch at the Arena would have improved sufficiently to enable our game against Wigan to go ahead and had been planning for this to be the case. However, it is sadly clear that this is not possible and we are therefore forced to postpone Tuesday’s game.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused to Coventry City fans, players and staff and Wigan and their fans, players and staff. We did explore the possibility of reversing the fixture, but unfortunately due to other events at the DW Stadium this was not possible.”

Coventry City CEO Dave Boddy added: “We are very disappointed to report the lack of improvement in the pitch and we are very disappointed for our supporters, players and staff again that we have now had to postpone Tuesday’s home game against Wigan. I met with Stephen Vaughan at Wasps/the Arena on Monday and have been in regular contact via email since.

“To be clear, this is not the fault of the grounds staff. Promised investment into a new pitch, which was a fundamental part of the extensive negotiations for the club to return and then again a promise made publicly following the announcement of our return in March 2021, has not happened and there has been no significant refurbishment or repair work over the summer either.

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“Our concerns over the quality of the pitch have not been addressed and we were extremely disappointed to be told in June that Wasps had made the decision not to take any action to put a new surface in. We still, despite repeated requests and the high-profile and urgent nature of this situation, await an ‘action plan’ from them to address this major issue which they promised to implement publicly last Saturday.

“Even if we had been able to have our first three league games scheduled away as requested by Wasps, which wasn’t possible due to the EFL fixture sequencing rules which apply equally to all clubs, it is clear that the pitch still would not have been playable.

“We do not wish to deal with this matter in public, but we are having to due to the situation and trying to keep fans updated. Instead, we simply want Wasps – our landlords – to provide a pitch which is safe and fit for purpose for their tenant, the City’s football club, to play at home. It is our supporters who are suffering in this mess, and the players and staff too.

“These are incredibly difficult circumstances for the football club. The pitch has now been independently found to be unsafe and unplayable by the agronomists and previously by EFL match officials and we are now desperate for this situation to be resolved by the Arena and Wasps. We will continue to keep supporters updated and will provide further news as soon as possible.”

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