In March, prior to my adjournment debate on Coventry City Football Club, the Football League emailed me a statement to clarify their position as I had asked them to do. The statement read:
“Any application to move to a stadium outside of the City would need to be considered by the Board of The Football League. In doing so, the Board would require the club to demonstrate that it had a clear plan for returning to Coventry within a prescribed timeframe.”
The statement was clear and unequivocal so I quoted it in the debate believing this to be one bright spot in an otherwise disastrous tale.
Alas, the commitment was not what it seemed.
The Board of the Football League ultimately approved the club’s move to a stadium outside of the city, and when asked if he had seen a clear plan for the club to return to Coventry, the Football League’s Chairman Greg Clark told the Coventry Telegraph:
“I don’t know, because I don’t [know] how anyone could know how a hypothetical stadium could be funded. You would have to get specific proposals in place for the Football League to evaluate them.
“We’ve seen targets… areas and opportunities they are considering to develop a stadium.
“Until they finalise which one and come up with a fully drafted business plan, it is impossible for us to go through it.”
Now they have done it again. In a letter to me on the 5 August 2013, the Football League’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Williamson explained the entry conditions imposed by the Football League and accepted by Otium Entertainment Group Limited (OEG) as part of the process to transfer the ‘golden share’ to OEG. He said:
“The Football League Board agreed to offer Otium Entertainment Group the club’s share in the Football League providing it accepted various entry conditions including a commitment that it meet the financial offer made to creditors under the proposed CVA.”
However, when Arena Coventry Limited’s (ACL) representative wrote seeking clarification as to the condition the Football League had imposed on OEG, and when ACL might receive payment, the Football League wrote back to say:
“We are not in a position to disclose the terms of the agreement between The Football League Limited and Otium Entertainment Group Limited and any queries about payment to creditors should be addressed to David Ruben & Partners as Administrators of Coventry City Football Club Limited. They are in possession of the funds arising out of the sale of assets to Otium Entertainment Group Limited.”
I have sought clarification from the Football League in relation to this latest contradiction, as yet to no avail. Those of you who have Coventry’s interests and good governance of football at heart, please help if you can.