Coventry City will play at Northampton next season, confirms Football League

• League One club to move for 'initial period of three seasons'
• League urges club and stadium owners to resolve dispute

Coventry City will play their home games more than 30 miles away from the Ricoh Arena next season after the Football League "reluctantly approved" an application from the club to groundshare at Northampton Town for three years.

A bitter feud between Sisu, the prospective owner which is set to buy the club back out of administration through Otium Entertainment Group, and the Ricoh's owner, Arena Coventry Limited, will see the Sky Blues will play at Sixfields for an initial period of three seasons.

Otium, owned by Sisu, which took control of City in 2007, will be required to provide a performance bond of £1m to the Football League as an assurance of the club's commitment to return to the Coventry area in the future.

The League board made the decision with "deep regret" but said it needed certainty as to where the club would be playing its home matches during the coming campaign.

Greg Clarke, the Football League chairman, said: "The Football League believes that clubs should play in the towns and cities from which they take their name. Nonetheless, from time to time, the board is asked to consider temporary relocations as a means for securing a club's ongoing participation in our competition.

"With no prospect of an agreement being reached between Otium and ACL, the board was placed in an unenviable position – with the very real possibility of Coventry City being unable to fulfil its fixtures for next season. This would inevitably call into question the club's continued membership of the Football League.

"The board did not take this decision lightly and it remains a matter of deep regret that the two parties involved cannot come to an agreement. I urge both Otium and ACL to continue to explore every possible opportunity to resolve this dispute, for the good of the city of Coventry, its football club and people living in the local community."

The move to Sixfields has caused outrage among Coventry supporters who have had to endure a slide down the divisions to League One in recent years.

The row between Sisu and ACL centres around costs at the Ricoh Arena, with the club feeling the £1.3m annual rent was too high. In January Sisu stopped paying the fees and, having spent approximately £30m on the club since taking over, put it in administration in March.

ACL offered a new deal to Sisu last month in which the club could play at the Ricoh Arena rent free. However the club's owner believes it is entitled to revenue generated at the stadium on matchday.

The administrator, Paul Appleton, recently agreed a sale of the club's assets to Otium and the move to Northampton depends on the club exiting administration in accordance with the League's conditions.

comments powered by Disqus