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There is rarely nothing more than a brief lull in the traumatic world of Coventry City.

Following the euphoria of the Ricoh return just a few weeks ago, came the bombshell landlords ACL are in talks with London rugby union giants, Wasps, over a deal to buy a large majority share of the stadium.

Coventry City: The ACL franchise stingI have to confess I am not a fan of the oval ball game but the idea seems unjust on so many levels. The relocation of Wasps to Coventry smacks of the franchising many feared when the Sky Blues moved to Northampton. It simply feels wrong a club in any sport can up its roots, leave its home and set up elsewhere just for financial convenience. Of course it works well in America, but here our sporting traditions are about long-standing roots and heritage.

And it’s hardly fair on Coventry Rugby Club. In the seventies, they were dominant in the sport, winning the knockout cup on multiple occasions. Harder times followed but the club are making a good effort at bouncing back, are well organised, warm and hospitable, and just a few miles from where Wasps would suddenly build their new nest.

You can understand the London side being allowed to play a few big games at the Ricoh if they need bigger capacity but it isn’t fair or reasonable to plonk a top flight rugby side on the doorstep of a club that has served the City and the game well for many years. And of course it has severe implications for the Sky Blues who would be back in a ground share situation with little hope of buying or part owning the stadium themselves.

That could be part of the ACL agenda, to force the hand of owners, SISU. Nobody really believes a alternative new stadium will still be built, and the current Ricoh return deal is two years with a further two year option. Throw in an impending court case with the City Council, SISU refuse to drop, and it looks rather messy again, just when we thought peace had broken out.

But ACL jumping into bed with Wasps is aptly as attractive as finding one of those pesky insects in your own bed. It is morally unfair and wrong but also deeply against the principles of why the Ricoh Arena was built. The stadium and surrounding complex propped up by the city’s tax payers was conceived to have been built for the people of Coventry. A sporting phoenix amphitheatre, a symbol of spirit and regeneration. That doesn’t pay the bills. But the Arena has a number of events, conferences, etc and should be, with the return of the Sky Blues, making a profit. What it should not be doing, is undermining one of the City’s oldest sporting establishments and getting our City’s good name scarred in the murky workings of franchising. Having blasted SISU on many occasions, I feel it is only right to say ACL have scored a major own goal on this one.

If some London rugby club with a rich owner have outgrown their home, that is not the City of Coventry’s concern, or something we should seek to make a mucky profit from. We have two fine rugby and football club’s here. They are going through difficult times but have been a flagship in the upper echelons of the sport in the past and can be do so again, if they are not undermined from within.

Whatever ACL are up to, it’s time to rethink. Keep the Ricoh out of the sordid world of franchising and play your part in returning our City and its sporting teams to the heights to which they aspire and belong.

Post written by Rob Summerfield
Blog: rob-summerfield.jimdo.com, Twitter: @RobSummerfield1

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