Former Coventry City chairman speaks out on Ricoh Arena cash

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Former Coventry City chairman speaks out on Ricoh Arena cash

Postby dutchman » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:02 am

The former Sky Blues chairman questioned what happened to proceeds generated by the sale of land to Tesco when the Ricoh Arena was built

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Coventry City’s former chairman Bryan Richardson has said he has no regrets about pursuing his vision to move the club from Highfield Road - despite the long-running Ricoh Arena row that now threatens to see the Sky Blues homeless at the end of this season.

Speaking on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, he then admitted that he regretted the way the process was handled and wished the club had not worked with Coventry City Council on the project.

Mr Richardson also questioned what happened to proceeds generated by the council’s sale of land to Tesco as part of the development of the Ricoh Arena and Arena Park. The council has been contacted for a comment.

He claimed there was more than £60million of revenue from the sale of part of the site to Tesco for the Arena Park shopping centre, which he said was "more than enough to do the whole development" - even though the stadium cost more than £110m to build.

At the helm of the Sky Blues from 1993 to 2002, a period which saw stars such as Robbie Keane, Mustapha Hadji and Gary McAllister turn out for the team, Mr Richardson spoke to Trish Adudu on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire today, Wednesday February 27.

Asked whether he had any regrets about his vision to move to the new stadium built on a former gasworks site (first put forward in 1997), he told the breakfast show host: “No, I regret how it was handled, because it was exactly the right thing at the right time.

“The whole key to the thing was the sale of part of the land - 32 acres of it - to Tesco.

“And we realised on that deal there - and I’m looking at the paperwork while we speak - £66.5m of income from Tesco.

“Now that was more than enough to do the whole development and I would love to know to this day - because I had gone by then - what happened to all that money.”

A move to a bigger home was intended to be the jewel in the crown of Mr Richardson’s reign and create a lasting legacy.

Asked whether things could have been done differently, Mr Richardson said: “If I had done it differently I would have insisted we did not get involved directly with the council - apart from planning - and I would have insisted we stuck together as a board and did a deal with Tesco.”

Mr Richardson maintained the outcome could have been different and again returned to the subject of the council’s sale of land to Tesco.

He said: “The fact of the matter is they did not stick to terms agreed with Tesco.

“It was never intended to be a 50/50 deal with the council.

“It was always intended it would be 100 per cent owned by Coventry City Football Club.

“Of course I take responsibility - I am the chairman of the company - but the problem with the whole process was it didn’t come to fruition because there were areas which were not handled properly.”

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