This morning, Sky Blues supporters awoke to the news that Coventry City will be returning to the Ricoh Arena in time for the Gillingham game on September 6th.
After a long-running and bitter dispute between the clubs owners Sisu and the owners of the Ricoh Arena, Arena Coventry Ltd. (ACL), secret talks between the two parties has seen a 2-year deal deal struck which returns the club back to the City of Coventry.
Steve Waggott, development director at Coventry City said in an official statement;
“We are delighted to get this deal done and I am sure every supporter of Coventry City will be thrilled with this news.
“We are under no illusion what a difficult 12 months it has been for the supporters and that was uppermost in our thinking as we worked to get this deal done.
It is now over a year since the controversial action was taken by the clubs owners to move Coventry 35 miles away to play their “home” games in Northampton after the club refused to pay rent for use of the stadium for the final 3 months of the 2012/13 season.
The decision to move the club from its home City was met by vociferous constellation and anger from the Coventry fans whose loyalty has been pushed to the very edge: forced to watch the club wrongly play in front of poultry crowds in a town they simply should never have been in.
The 13 months since the club left Coventry has seen numerous protest initiatives carried out by the determined City supports including at the clubs FA Cup 4th Round match against Arsenal where in the 35th minute of the game, fans held aloft signs simply asking ‘WHY?’
WHY? had their club been wrongly ripped away from the fans, the city and the community the club serves and represents.
In July, 8,000 people marched through the streets of Coventry for a second successive summer in protest against the club playing away from Coventry where both the Football League and the clubs owners were targeted for their roles in the crippling and embarrassing saga that has been painful for all City supporters.
Fans have continued to plead to all the relevant parties to see sense and to return the club back to Coventry by also attempting to put financial pressure on the owners by boycotting home matches and refusing to purchase club merchandise.
Last week however hopes were raised of a return after the Football League ordered Sisu to pay £490,000 owed to the stadium owners that was seen as an obstacle in recommencing talks to get Coventry back playing in Coventry.
The news will no doubt be a blessed relief to all Coventry fans whose passion and support for their club throughout the dispute cannot be questioned.
The frustration that the club ever left the City will never fade. For over a season fans of their club have wrongly been stripped of watching their team.
However, all City fans will want the blame game to cease following this fantastic news for the club.
What will be important to the Coventry supporters now is making sure Steven Pressley’s men return home in style in front of a bumper crowd at the Ricoh Arena against Gillingham.
For all Coventry City fans, the sky is that little bluer this morning.