Coventry owners SISU believe deal can be reached to save club
"The fans must hear all sides of a story which has been 20 years in the making," says Joy Seppala, head of SISU, who have issued open letter to supporters
Last Updated: 13/03/19 7:04pm
Joy Seppala, the head of SISU, owners of Coventry City, has broken her silence over the row which threatens to see the club expelled from the English Football League (EFL) in six weeks' time.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, the hedge fund chief revealed she believed their disputes with Wasps and Coventry City Council can be resolved - and that every battle they have fought in 11 years of ownership was "to make the club the very best it can be".
Seppala was speaking ahead of a crucial meeting in Westminster later this week called by the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright MP, to help find a solution to the stalemate which continues to threaten the club's existence.
Coventry's tenancy at the Ricoh comes to an end in May - and Wasps refuse to negotiate an extension unless SISU drop legal action over the way the stadium was sold to Wasps in 2014.
"We have kept our counsel for many years as we do not get involved in public rows," Seppala said. "But we are breaking with tradition because it's essential that we explain to the fans, the status of Coventry City FC.
"All we want is a stadium we can call home, an ability to generate revenues like any other football club, to control our costs and build a stable base that will allow us to enjoy more promotions and hopefully one day reach the dream of the Premier League.
"We have been to Wembley twice recently, we have a thriving academy and we're three points off the play-offs. There are definitely reasons to be optimistic.
"Why are we doing this now? Because the fans must hear all sides of a story which has been 20 years in the making.
"We are not dealing with opinions. We are dealing with facts and today we are providing comprehensive background that sets out how we reached this position."
Crucially, Seppala said SISU will drop all legal action against Coventry City Council IF:
- Councillors support a brand new stadium development within the city "on reasonable terms" and
- They can agree a deal with Wasps to stay at the Ricoh Arena until the new stadium is completed.
In the document, SISU say this offer has been on the table, but has so far failed to find agreement.
In their first public statement for three years, SISU released an eight-page document detailing the numerous battles they have fought - and the reasoning behind the decisions they have taken during their 11-year tenure.
In the document, SISU say:
- Coventry City council has repeatedly acted against the interests of the club.
- They continue efforts to find land on which to build a new stadium and have appointed planning consultants to advise on the development.
- They have agreed on a site for a new stadium on several occasions but have been stopped by EFL rules, Coventry City Council and an unwillingness of some landowners to make such a controversial sale.
- They have not received any takeover offers which included proof of funds.
No date for the Westminster meeting has been released although we understand it will take place later this week.
However, neither the fans, nor those involved hold out much chance of a resolution unless the long-running legal action over the sale of the Ricoh - the reason for the deadlock over Coventry City's tenancy - was ended.
The meeting is expected to be attended by Colleen Fletcher, MP for Coventry North East, who recently urged SISU to "sell up and go", saying their actions had been "divisive" and "toxic".
Another local MP, Marcus Jones told SISU to look at their "moral obligation to a city, a community and the fans who have supported this club for decades".
Without further assurances at to where they will play their home games next season, the EFL will call an EGM to be held on April 25, where they face expulsion from the league.