sport

Coventry hit by stadium blow

Coventry's hopes of returning to the Ricoh Arena have been dashed after owners Sisu lost a court battle with Coventry City Council.

The findings of a judicial review took place on Monday morning and it saw the council successfully defend itself against claims its 14.4million loan to Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), the owners of the Sky Blues' former home the Ricoh Arena, was an 'unlawful subsidy'.

A statement released on the club's website after the hearing described the ruling as"unfortunate" and explained how they believe building a new stadium is now the "only viable commercial option" with any prospect of a move back to their home of eight years seemingly in tatters.

"Coventry City Football Club and its owners' primary objective remains building a long-term future," it read. "The judgement by Hickinbottom J, that the Council's (CCC) decision to provide a 14.4 million loan to private stadium management company Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) was not an unlawful subsidy, is unfortunate.

"The football club and its owners believe that the loan, which exceeded the value of the stadium by almost 200%, was neither lawful nor in the interests of the supporters, taxpayers, stadium operators or the Club.

"ACL will now remain burdened with debt for the next 43 years, removing any prospect of a long term return to the stadium by the Club. With this level of debt there is no realistic prospect of any sports franchise or ACL being able to generate sufficient revenue to be commercially viable.

"We will apply for leave to appeal this decision. Now, more than ever, the new stadium is the only viable commercial option. The owner's primary objective remains building a long term sound financial platform for the future growth of the Club."

A row with ACL over rent meant the League One side played their home games over 35 miles away at Northampton's Sixfields last season in front of meagre crowds.