Coventry City to play home games at Northampton Town ‘for next three years’

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Northampton Town and Coventry City are believed to have signed an agreement that will see the Sky Blues play their home games at Sixfields for the next three seasons.

Coventry’s owners, the Otium Entertainment Group, have been looking for a venue at which to play City’s home games, and it is understood they have now signed a deal with the Cobblers to rent Sixfields for their home games in league and cup.

The deal would not be a groundshare, but purely a rental agreement.

The Chron understands that Cobblers would have the preference when fixtures clash - which they do on 11 occasions - and that no Northampton games will be moved as a result.

Coventry chief executive Tim Fisher confirmed in early June that the club were in negotiations with three clubs with a view to hiring their facilites - one of which is believed to have been Walsall.

The move is unlikely to be a popular one with Sky Blues supporters, with several groups threatening to boycott any games played away from their Ricoh Arena home.

It is understood that although both Northampton Town and Coventry City have agreed the rental deal in principle, nothing will be confirmed until tomorrow.

That is when the Football League board meets, and they will have to ratify the Sky Blues playing their home games in Northampton.

Renting Sixfields would be a spectacular fall from grace for Coventry, who were FA Cup winners in 1987, and were only relegated from the Premier League in 2001.

Indeed, one of the Cobblers’ big FA Cup giant-killings in their history was against the Sky Blues at the County Ground in 1989, Steve Berry scoring the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win.

Coventry moved from Highfield Road to the Ricoh Arena in 2005, but not a lot has gone right for the club on or off the pitch since they did so.

In 2012 the club was relegated to league one, the first time they have played in the third tier of English football for 48 years, and they ended the campaign in a lowly 15th place after being deducted 10 points for going into administration.

THE Coventry Telegraph is reporting that Coventry are moving to Northampton while they close in on site for new ground in “the Coventry area”

The paper reports that the club are set to be selected as the preferred buyer for a site in “the Coventry area” to build a new stadium - and to enter exclusive negotiations over a sale.

It was reported on www.coventrytelegraph.net: ‘Several Telegraph sources confirmed Coventry City and Northampton Town have agreed a deal for the Sky Blues to play at The Cobblers’ 7,600-capacity stadium from the new season, which begins on August 3.

The deal could be approved by the League whether or not City are still in administration at the start of the season.

As the Telegraph also reveals today, Coventry City Football Club Limited’s administrator Paul Appleton has now issued his confidential proposals for creditors to sign a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would bring the club out of administration, preventing liquidation.

It is not yet known if creditor Arena Coventry Limited - the part-Coventry City Council-owned Ricoh stadium firm owed rent arrears by the Sky Blues - will try to block the CVA and prolong administration.

ACL directors and lawyers - and leading councillors - have stated they favoured new owners for the football club, which ACL would also allow to invest in the stadium company as partners.

The arrangements with Northampton Town could see home matches played there for at least three years - the minimum period Coventry City Football Club (Holdings) Limited director Tim Fisher claims would be needed to build a new stadium.

Many fans believe it could take longer to get planning permission and other agreements in place.

It is understood negotiations over groundsharing with other West Midlands clubs including Walsall Town have failed.

The Saddlers’ manager Dean Smith said it would ruin the pitch at the Banks’s stadium.

In the meantime, talks had been going on with Northampton Town over use of the Sixfields all-seater stadium, which opened in 1994.

Unconfirmed reports are that Town may want to use the revenue for future development.

Coventry City fans staged a protest outside the Ricoh stadium on Saturday calling for the club to remain in Coventry.

More than 13,000 people have signed the Telegraph’s petition to ‘Keep City in Coventry”.

ACL has offered to the administrator use of the Ricoh Arena for home games rent-free - with Coventry City meeting matchday costs only - but only while the club remains in administration.’