Lincoln City will likely play at St Andrew’s in league action next season for the first time since 1955, but the opponents won’t be Birmingham City.
Instead, crisis-club Coventry City will seemingly be playing their home matches there after talks to remain at the Ricoh Arena broke down. It’s the second time the Sky Blues have been forced to play away from their home city after a spell at Sixfields.
It was widely believed that they were set to return to the ground they occasionally call home, with an EFL meeting to discuss their future cancelled and talks responding well. However, since the conclusion of the season, there’s been bumps in the road. The move was allegedly vetoed by a European Commission and a meeting had been set to vote on whether to expel the club from the league.
With that fear looming over them, owners SISU have been forced to strike the ground share agreement with Birmingham and face up to another spell on the road, 20 miles away at the home of Garry Monk’s Championship side.
The whole saga has been a nasty, damaging series of events that sully the reputation of the 1987 FA Cup winners, with the fans left in the middle of a tug-o-war between Ricoh Arena owners Wasps and SISU. The latter have asked a European Commission to look into the sale if the stadium to Wasps in 2014, whilst the former have threatened to lock Coventry out of the ground if that action is not rescinded.
A club statement confirmed that the ground share had been approved, but that talks to remain at the Ricoh were ongoing.
Coventry City can confirm that the planned English Football League (EFL) EGM and vote regarding the club’s place in the EFL has now been cancelled
This is because the Club has met the EFL’s criteria regarding ensuring a venue for matches next season and the ability to fulfil fixtures, by now having a groundshare venue and agreement in place.
This groundshare is in place to make sure the Club has somewhere to play in the scenario of a deal to play at the Ricoh Arena not being agreed.
We can confirm that talks with the aim to achieve a deal to play at the Ricoh Arena are continuing between Coventry City Football Club, its owners SISU and Wasps Holdings Limited.
Our focus and desire is to agree a deal at the Ricoh Arena – this is everyone’s preferred option, and the right option for Coventry City. While the backup of a groundshare exists to ensure the future of the Football Club continues, another groundshare is not something anyone wants to happen.
Details of the agreed groundshare and of our ongoing discussions with Wasps Holdings Limited remain confidential, due to mutually signed confidentiality agreements.
We understand the frustration that fans are feeling, and have expressed to us, at not knowing where their Club will be playing next season, not being able to plan for next season and supporting Mark Robins and the team, and the time that this is taking.
The upshot for the Imps is a first trip to St Andrews in the league since 1955. Our last Football League visit there came in the old Second Division under Bill Anderson, where Roy Finch, Johnny Garvie and Colin Gibson gave us a 3-3 draw against the eventual champions.
We have played there twice since, losing 2-1 in the FA Cup in 1968/69, then losing again in the Carling Cup in 2004. On that occasion, Robbie Savage, Jesper Gronkjaer and Clinton Morrison bagged for the hosts, with a late Simon Yeo penalty giving us some respect to bring back to the Bank.
Respect is one thing that seems to be lacking in Coventry right now, with the Sky Blues fans and Mark Robins promising side the victims of a power struggle that shows little signs of easing up.