It's No Good Owning a Stadium If It's Empty; DEBT: Ricoh and Club Working Together to Combat the Recession

Article excerpt

Byline: Les Reid

A RICOH Arena director says no formal approach has been made by the indebted Sky Blues to buy out half the profitable stadium company.

But Peter Knatchbull-Hugessen said excellent new joint working between the two companies was delivering savings to help them ride out the recession.

New figures show Arena Coventry Ltd (ACL) is making an operating profit of pounds 3 million, while the Sky Blues are running up a multi-million pound deficit.

Receipts from concerts - with Take That and Oasis set to play to sell-out crowds - conferences and banqueting all go to ACL.

Shares in ACL are equally split between the city council, which fully owns the Ricoh site, and the Alan Edwards Higgs Charity, which bought the football club's 50 per cent share six years ago..

The Sky Blues have an option to buy that back until 2015, at a price set by a complicated formula which partly includes the stadium's fluctuating market value.

High-level Ricoh sources now estimate it could cost the club more than pounds 10 million.

Mr Knatchbull-Hughessen told the Telegraph: "As far as their exercising that option, there's been no request (from the Sky Blues) to the directors to go down that route at all since the take-over.

There is a formal process and they haven't asked to begin that.

"It isn't surprising. If they're still trying to contain a loss it's unlikely they're going to find a bunch of money." He said senior staff in marketing, finance, stadium maintenance and human resources were now being shared between ACL and the football club, helping to cut costs for both in "difficult trading conditions".

He gave "clever" development of merchandise in the Sky Blues shops as an example of the club trying to generate income. …