League One Coventry's existence could be under threat if they do not pay rent owing on the Ricoh Arena
Coventry City could face closure if they do not pay unpaid rent on the Ricoh Arena within 21 days.
Last Updated: 05/12/12 6:40pm
Stadium company ACL, which is jointly owned by the Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council, has issued a statutory demand for the £1.1million arrears owed by the League One side.
And, if the money is not paid by Boxing Day, the club would have to declare themselves insolvent or be faced with the prospect of a winding-up order.
ACL released a statement on Wednesday which said: "Following the refusal of Coventry City Football Club and its owners, Sisu, to pay outstanding rent to Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), the ACL Board has today issued a statutory demand to Coventry City Football Club (CCFC).
"The statutory demand covers the £1.1 million owed by CCFC to ACL in rent arrears, of a total £1.6 million owed by the club.
"This is not a course of action the ACL Board wanted to take. However, the behaviour of Sisu, the owners of CCFC, has left the Board with no choice but to issue the statutory demand.
"The Board feels that all other avenues to resolve this issue have been exhausted and is astonished that the club's owners have allowed matters to come to this sorry pass.
"Responsibility for this situation lies completely with Sisu, a Mayfair hedge fund which has let CCFC fail under its direction."
Coventry later released a statement claiming to pay more rent than anyone in npower League One or the Championship, adding they will seek to start negotiations with ACL to achieve "commercial normality".
"We are disappointed by ACL's actions to issue a statutory demand to Coventry City Football Club rather than, as we had requested, sitting down with us to negotiate a level of rent which the club can afford and which is in line with the rent paid by other clubs," the statement read.
"For reference, ACL has been charging CCFC an annual rent of £1.28 million, which we understand is the highest in both League One and the Championship.
"We understand that the average annual rent paid by League One clubs (excluding CCFC) is less than £170,000 and that the average in the Championship is less than £290,000. All other clubs which rent their stadia get full access to 100 per cent of match day food, beverage and car parking revenues, unlike CCFC.
"The club's objective in requesting these negotiations with ACL has been only to bring about a state of commercial normality, where CCFC pays the same level of rent and has access to the same type of ancillary revenues as the other football clubs with which it competes."
The Sky Blues left their Highfield Road home in 2005 to take up residence at the 32,000-seater stadium, but insists it has become unviable to continue there.
The statement continued: "It is unsustainable for CCFC to be put at a severe financial disadvantage to its peers.
"While we have been seeking to normalise the rent, we have continued to pay match-day costs to ensure that ACL is not left out-of-pocket.
"These costs amount to over #250,000 per season, much more than the average rent paid by League One clubs.
"In addition to defraying ACL's match-day costs, the club has been subsidising ACL's general overheads ever since the Sky Blues started playing at the Ricoh Arena, amounting to many millions of pounds over seven years.
"The club remains committed to the city and people of Coventry. However, its viability depends on it finding an alternative home ground where it can afford to play."