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Coventry fans stung by Wasps
Dan Crowter, Coventry Socialist Party
After spending a year playing in Northampton, 35 miles outside Coventry, the recent return of Coventry City Football Club (CCFC) to Coventry's Ricoh Arena was welcomed by football fans across the country. But issues around the ownership of the club and stadium continue.
A recent bid from London Wasps Rugby Football Club to purchase ACL, the company which runs the Ricoh, was accepted by Coventry council. This puts the future of CCFC and Coventry Rugby Football Club in doubt.
There was no real public consultation, and the people of Coventry do not know the details of the deal. Wasps chairman Derek Richardson now owns 100% of ACL, having paid nearly £20 million to the firm's owners and creditors.
The council claims this deal is the best for the club and the people of Coventry. But how do we know if they don't give us the details? Our money built the Ricoh, now it's being stolen from us by a rich businessman who couldn't care less about us or our clubs.
In 2003, when the council was debating building the Ricoh, there were three Socialist Party councillors who held the balance of power. They forced a full public consultation and debate. The views of Coventry residents and CCFC fans were sought, and as a result the Socialist councillors voted to build the new stadium.
The current council of 43 Labour members and 11 Tories has now decided unanimously that the stadium will be leased for 250 years!
Coventry already has a rugby club and a football club - London Wasps relocating here threatens both of them. CCFC fans can also sympathise with Wasps supporters whose own club, already moved 30 miles away from the capital in 2002, is now to be moved a further 80!
CCFC owners Sisu and the council have shown repeatedly that they don't have the club's best interests at heart. The businesspeople who own Wasps don't either. They'll keep on selling us down the river. All the clubs should be owned and run by the fans.
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