MP offered to mediate in the Ricoh Arena row
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