The Football League have provided their formal response to Coventry City's ongoing situation with respect to their ability to stage fixtures during the 2019-20 season. The League One side will see their lease at the Ricoh Arena expire this summer, with stadium owners Wasps currently unwilling to enter into negotiations with the Sky Blues to secure an extension to that stay, due to legal action being taken by Coventry's owners SISU over the circumstances that led to Wasps taking over the stadium.
The League have reaffirmed that Coventry have not provided clarity on their plans, and so the EFL have detailed the timetable for the EGM that will be called of Coventry have not resolved their issues by April. However, the League imply that they will be given right up until the EGM date itself to come up with a new lease agreement:
"The Club is not yet in a position to provide absolute clarity of its plans, but is continuing to work with the relevant parties, as they attempt to meet the EFL's ultimate objective of ensuring they continue to play in the city of Coventry on a long term basis. At this stage, Coventry City still face the prospect of an Extraordinary General Meeting of Clubs being convened to consider their expulsion from the League on April 25th if they are unable to satisfy the requirements in line with EFL Regulations. EFL Clubs would need to be notified no later than April 2nd 2019 of an EGM and, in the interim period, Coventry City will be given every opportunity to develop and present a suitable solution."
Coventry City were one of four clubs that the League's Board discussed today. League One side Blackpool are the subject of a possible points deduction after they went into receivership in February 2019. The move was brought by the High Court, after a judge ruled that owner Owen Oyston must pay former Director Valeri Belokon the sum of £25 million for money he was owed, with Belokon accusing the Oyston family of asset-stripping the Bloomfield Road side. The Courts agreed, and decided that Belokon was owed £31 million, but only a small proportion has been paid back to him.
The Receiver will use assets owned by Owen Oyston and also Blackpool Football Club Properties Ltd (which owns Blackpool FC's physical assets) to discharge the debts. With Blackpool having gone through an insolvency event, they have in theory breached Football League regulations that normally incur a standard 12 point penalty. However, given the unusual nature of the case, the League has said they will wait for Blackpool's new Board of Directors and the official receiver to provide evidence of their financial position before they consider if the rule has been broken.
The League's Board have also rejected an attempt by Charlton Athletic owner Roland Duchatalet to get the EFL to take control of the London club. The Belgian is attempting to sell his shares, and wrote to the League with the unusual request last month. However, unsurprisingly the EFL have decided this would create a conflict of interest and so could never be considered. However, they have invited Mr Duchatalet to contact them for any assistance in finding a new owner for the club. There is one possible snag - Duchatalet's letter indicated that he wanted to keep control of the stadium and training ground and rent it back to a future owner, with figures of £70 million being talked about as an asking price for the club.
The situation at Bolton Wanderers has also been discussed. Their match against Millwall was in danger of not going ahead, due to February wages not being paid at the club. Various parties, including stewards and turnstile operators had threatened not to work on Saturday, which would have forced Bolton Council to block the fixture on safety grounds. The emergency services had also indicated that they had not been paid for recent matches. Owner Ken Anderson, who is attempting to sell the club, has agreed to fund the backlog to ensure that salaries and associated bills can be paid. The EFL have merely said that they are providing 'assistance' to Bolton, in order to find a permanent solution to their long-running woes.
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