Last week the Sky Blue Trust met again with Nick Eastwood CEO of Wasps and new Chair of ACL, following confirmation of their 100% ownership of ACL. The meeting centred on the new owner’s approach to the Sky Blues and how they intended to work together for a mutually beneficial future. Nick stated that they had already had meetings with Steve Waggott and Steve Brookfield from CCFC and the meetings had been very constructive and held in an atmosphere of co-operation covering many aspects of mutual interest such as potentially sharing ticketing systems and some specific matters that would affect CCFC and its supporters.
Nick stated that a Wasps logo would be put up on the outside of the stadium alongside those currently in place for the Sky Blues and Casino but there were definitely no plans for changing the seat colours. He stated this stadium was now the permanent home of the Wasps but they also want it to be the permanent home of the Sky Blues and would not do things to change that but there may well be the need for some compromise and pragmatism.
We asked about the details of the deal for the Council and the Higgs Charity shares but Nick stated that these were covered by commercial confidentiality but did confirm that the North stand would be renamed the Alan Higgs Charity Stand and that the charity would receive 50p for every ticket sold for rugby matches – not for football matches.
When quizzed about the state of the pitch he admitted that it was of concern to all and stated that the main reason for the current poor condition was simply due to the timing of the return of the Sky Blues in that the pitch would ideally have been given time to be properly prepared but for a host of reasons all parties had decided that getting matches back at the Ricoh took precedent over the potential damage to the playing surface. In hindsight this may have been a mistake but ACL were committed to increasing resources in this area to improve the quality of the playing surface for both teams. How the pitch performed for the rest of this season would be dependent upon the weather etc but unfortunately the situation is at it is and both sides would have to make do this season.
Nick stated once again that ACL/Wasps were keen to keep CCFC at the Ricoh and were open to discussions on all aspects including access to revenues but it takes will on both sides to make this happen and as yet these talks have yet to be had. When we brought up the matter of the much vaunted new stadium he stated that was a matter for Otium/SISU to decide what fitted their business model for the club best and it wasn’t his place to comment on its merits. We stated that we preferred that the club stay at the Ricoh in Coventry as tenants on a good rental deal rather than be saddled with millions more debt and a small stadium outside Coventry.
Overall it was a very constructive and positive meeting – the general tone was that ACL want CCFC to be part of the future of the Ricoh and that this is their home. There appears to be a will from Wasps to work with the Sky Blues, not something that was always clear from the previous relationship between ACL and CCFC, but the final decision rests with the football club as to which direction they wish to go in.
Nick has agreed to be the guest speaker at the next Sky Blue Trust open meeting on Monday 1st December, 7.30pm Squirrel pub, Greyfriars Lane, Coventry, CV1 2GY. All Trust members welcome to come along, hear what Nick has to say and ask him their own questions – should be an interesting evening.