MP of­fered to me­di­ate in the Ri­coh Arena row

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

THE politi­cian lead­ing the charge to re­form foot­ball has an­swered the Tele­graph’s calls for in­ter­ven­tion in the un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Coven­try City’s fu­ture.

Damian Collins MP, who has re­cently been elected as chair­man of the govern­ment’s Se­lect Com­mit­tee for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport, has of­fered to me­di­ate in the Ri­coh Arena row.

The Con­ser­va­tive MP’s of­fer comes af­ter the Tele­graph wrote to Mr Collins - as well a long list of other govern­ment of­fi­cials and sports gov­ern­ing bod­ies about the pos­si­bil­ity of help­ing to en­sure Coven­try City is not al­lowed to leave its home city again.

Mr Collins has of­fered to me­di­ate be­tween Ri­coh Arena land­lords Wasps and Coven­try City, or their own­ers Sisu. The foot­ball club’s agree­ment to play at the sta­dium due to ex­pire at the end of next sea­son. Talks have bro­ken down af­ter Wasps pulled out cit­ing the “dis­trac­tion” of on­go­ing le­gal ac­tion by Sisu in re­la­tion to the Ri­coh Arena.

Concerns the Six­fields fi­asco, which saw the club leave Coven­try for more than a sea­son, could be re­peated were height­ened when the Foot­ball League con­firmed this month that the Sky Blues could be al­lowed to leave the city again.

How­ever, Coven­try City chair­man Tim Fisher told fans at a re­cent meet­ing that he be­lieved Wasps would agree to an ex­ten­sion of a short term agree­ment rather than force the club out of the city.

When asked by the Tele­graph if they would be open to such an ex­ten­sion, Wasps de­clined to com­ment. The Premier­ship Rugby club has also failed to an­swer ques­tions about what it would take to get talks back un­der­way.

Mr Collins has put him­self for­ward as the man to break the dead­lock af­ter Coven­try South Labour MP Jim Cun­ning­ham re­peated the Tele­graph’s in­vi­ta­tion dur­ing a Par­lia­men­tary de­bate ear­lier this month into the sit­u­a­tion at Coven­try City.

Mr Cun­ning­ham said: “We need some­one of good re­pute who will act as a me­di­a­tor be­tween Wasps and the foot­ball club to the try and break the stale­mate.

“Damian Collins MP is in a highly in­flu­en­tial po­si­tion and he is very well in­formed about foot­ball gov­er­nance and the back­ground to the sit­u­a­tion in Coven­try.

“I am pleased that he has of­fered to act as me­di­a­tor to try to bring both sides of to­gether.”

Mr Collins’ in­ter­ven­tion is sig­nif­i­cant as he heads up the DCMS Se­lect Com­mit­tee which has the power to con­duct en­quiries into ar­eas of in­ter­est. Se­lect Com­mit­tee en­quiries can see wit­nesses called to give ev­i­dence in pub­lic.

He has fol­lowed the sit­u­a­tion at Coven­try City closely for many years and heav­ily crit­i­cised both Sisu and the Foot­ball League dur­ing the club’s stint in Northamp­ton. Mr Collins also spoke at the re­cent Par­lia­men­tary de­bate into Coven­try City, Mr Cun­ning­ham ar­ranged that af­ter giv­ing his back­ing to the Tele­graph’s calls for the Lon­don hedge fund to put the club up for sale.

Dur­ing that de­bate, also at­tended by sports min­is­ter Tracey Crouch, Mr Cun­ning­ham called on Sisu to aban­don their “toxic le­gacy” and put the club up for sale.

A Tele­graph pe­ti­tion call­ing on the own­ers to put CCFC up for sale, run on­line and in print, has at­tracted more than 19,000 sig­na­tures. Pres­sure on the own­ers has also in­creased in re­cent weeks with a string of protests by sup­port­ers in­clud­ing two marches at­tended by thou­sands and a joint protest with Charl­ton Ath­letic sup­port­ers at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion af­ter hun­dreds of plas­tic pigs were thrown onto the pitch. this dis­pute

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