Discussion in 'Coventry City General Chat' started by dubed, Mar 20, 2017.
EXCLUSIVE: Coventry City in talks to relocate ‘lifeblood’ youth academy to city school
EXCLUSIVE: Coventry City in talks to relocate ‘lifeblood’ youth academy to city school
COVENTRY City Football Club are in talks over partly relocating their ‘lifeblood’ youth academy to a school in the city, we can reveal.
The academy wants to use the outdoor football pitches at the school – which we have chosen not to name at this stage while deliberations continue – which has good quality pitches.
Our sources say the club has also sought a provisional agreement with the Coventry Sports Foundation (CSF)-operated Alan Higgs Centre to use rugby club Wasps’ delayed new indoor ‘kicking barn’ facility, if and when it gets built.
The academy will require outdoor and indoor pitches. We have learned from several sources the school is the most advanced option for outdoor facilities, although other options have been examined.
The Sky Blues’ academy – which has produced young stars such as Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Norwich’s James Maddison, and current homegrown City stars Ben Stevenson and Jordan Willis – has faced an uncertain future in the last year.
A multi-party dispute between Coventry City Council, the club’s parent company Sisu, the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and other parties over the Ricoh Arena stadium and later the academy, led to city councillors last year granting Ricoh Arena owners Wasps planning permission to build a £7million training centre for their players at the Alan Higgs Centre.
The centre in Allard Way was originally purpose-built for the football club’s academy.
Wasps recently confirmed their new training centre has been delayed. They say it is now scheduled to be built some time next season, including the kicking barn. The initial expectation had been that it would be ready this summer, ahead of the 2017/8 season.
But Wasps’ finances are precarious. This newspaper has consistently raised questions over how bondholders of £35million of Wasps’ debts of over £40million will ever get their money back, and whether ‘covenant’ commitments to them can be met – let alone how a £7million training facility could be paid for.
Wasps have today re-iterated they may need to ‘refinance’ the bond debt. But it remains to be seen how that could be done without selling their stake in the Ricoh Arena, which they insist they remain committed to for the long term.
There are also council-backed plans for a 50-metre swimming pool at the Alan Higgs Centre, to be built on the Sky Blues’ academy’s existing indoor and publicly used pitch.
Wasps’ kicking barn would be built on the football club academy’s former outdoor pitch.
Questions remain over whether the council would plough ahead with building a swimming pool – displacing CCFC academy’s indoor facilities – if Higgs’ training centre and kicking barn are ultimately not built.
No provision to retain Coventry City’s academy was written in Wasps’ planning application last year – discussed in secret with council officials for months previously.
It later emerged the Alan Edward Higgs Charity had inserted a a legal clause into the centre’s lease transfer in March last year from the Alan Higgs Trust – which had included leader councillor John Mutton and former CCFC chairman Joe Elliott as trustees – to the Coventry and Warwickshire Award Trust. The clause effectively blocked the long-term use by the football club under the club’s current parent company Sisu, given its legal action in the multi-party dispute.
The club had – before and after the council and Higgs charity’s sale of the Ricoh Arena to Wasps in 2014 – publicly mooted creating new academy facilities alongside a new stadium.
But the club insisted last year at no point had it served notice to leave the Higgs centre, and had wanted to continue with a temporary rolling contract there. This newspaper revealed last year leaked emails showed such written requests by the club.
Following public outrage, Wasps told the media the Sky Blues’ academy may be able to use its proposed kicking barn, at times when it was not being used for its rugby players,
Former Coventry City chief executive Chris Anderson said last summer that would not be enough to retain the academy’s crucial ‘Category 2’ status – which requires full-time indoor and outdoor multiple facilities including education facilities.
The ‘Category 2’ excellence rating from the Premier League means the club’s academy receives over £500,000 a year from the footballing authorities.
Discussions over the future have taken place between the club, CSF and the Football League, including its head of youth development David Wetherall, the former Leeds and Bradford defender.
It is understood it is hoped the latest plan to use the school’s outdoor facilities and the indoor facilities at the Higgs centre could be enough to satisfy the football authorities that Category 2 status should be maintained.
New Coventry City team manager Mark Robins emphasised on his first day in charge this month how crucial having the academy ‘in the best shape possible’ would be to rebuilding the club, which is facing relegation to League Two, the fourth-tier of English football.
CSF’s Paul Breed and others had claimed they were left with little choice but to seek alternative permanent arrangements with other parties for the Alan Higgs Centre, after a lease with the football club expires in June this year.
Yet Peter Knatchbull-Hugessen, clerk to the Alan Edward Higgs Charity, stated last year the legal clause blocked any sale or lease beyond seven years to any organisation or individual who had taken legal action against the Higgs charity since 2011, which would include the football club’s parent company.
Matches up with people being spotted at schools
I hate victim mentality. Sisu man up and sort out or just go
There are still schools with proper outdoor pitches that haven't been sold off for housing? Lucky bastard kids.
It's Woodlands school isn't it? The Telegraph mentioned it last year.
Nope, Woodlands was closing and Maton suggested CCFC buy it and maintain it as a public facility / academy but it then turned out it doesn't fit in with the city plan.
This is Finham Park.
Woodlands is closing - or closed - so I would guess so yes it's an independent sports centre.
It'll certainly help the young kids develop for lower league football training in Finham Park's famed 'swamp pitch'!
I hate the Academy being thrown out of their facility in a stitch up between CCC and Wasps, but hey, we all have our foibles.
Jesus christ Les, just write the story as it is without the 'signature' backstory. Hopefully CCFC get something sorted.
Come to think of it, the old Wiseman playing fields / running track off Woodway Lane still hasn't been built on, has it? Would probably be space on there for a building and an outdoor pitch?
Indeed. A loss making Olympic sized swimming pool that no one needs and if course the wasps £7 million redevelopment. Now where is that coming from and when is that happening.
Woodlands Power league is still a thing up there, as I play most weeks, but think the actual school is closed for teaching, etc.
Anyhow, here we go again, round and round.
Would such a set up have to be approved by the Local Education Authority?...................
Finham park, that stinks
In what way? Stitch up?
Which includes rugby facilities. Only swimming pool I've ever known to need rugby facilities.
And why should we believe a word of the empty promises we hear from our beloved club?
Doubt it, most secondary schools are now academies, LEA's have no say with them. Unless its selling off playing fields, that would take secretary of state approval.
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The end is nigh !!
Well a little bit closer anyway.
If we get the facilities we need and can offer a few kids better facilities too that's win win IMO. Would be nice if it was a school that doesn't already have advantages but still.
Agreeed shmeee but just can't believe a word of it.
Depends if the school is still under LEA control I suppose
you must have been up all night thinking this up tim
Kiss me where it smells she said. So I took her to Finham.
Good timing for the story considering the trusts meeting with Fisher tonight...
Perhaps the council will lend them the money
Don't think anyone would be surprised if thats what ended up happening.
Most likely be bablake got the best pitches in the city at crist the king playing fields owned by bablake club house changing room only thing missing is indoor pitch
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Lend give its all the same sort of thing.
These rugby lot have grand ideas until it comes to paying for them
Wherever it is they need to keep it quiet otherwise that London lot will be there saying they need it
Coventry City Academy lining up deal to relocate to city school
They should just call it a day with the academy and close it down. Use the money for half decent players instead of piles of crap that it produces year after year. Burge,Haynes,Willis,Bigi,Finch,Thomas et al. Is it really worth it apart from maybe one or 2 we actually get every 10 years?
Separate names with a comma.