Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 3rd 2013 Contents A64
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 3, 2013
LONDON---Just a year ago
Coventry was hosting Olympic
football and being lauded by Fifa
President Sepp Blatter.
For world football s most pow-
erful executive, seeing top-level
matches there again was "a
source of great joy and pride."
Now the Ricoh Arena, just
eight years old and with a 32,000
capacity, is a football stadium
facing a future without football.
And the financially troubled
team that had been based at the
stadium is fighting for its future
after 130 years in existence, pre-
dating the league it plays in.
"It s a dreadful thing and it
ought not to be allowed for a city
to have its football club to be
taken away," Labour Party leg-
islator Bob Ainsworth, who rep-
resents part of Coventry in the
House of Commons, told The
Associated Press yesterday.
"I want an investigation to
expose everything that has gone
on over the last few years."
In the topflight for 34 years
until 2001, the 1987 FA Cup win-
ners have plunged into the third
tier as a bitter dispute between
the hedge fund that owns the
club and the Ricoh Arena land-
As they rowed over an annual
rent of £1.3 million (US$2 million)
to play in the stadium, the team
entered bankruptcy protection
and gained permission from the
Football League to play home
matches about 30 miles away in
Northampton, much to the
annoyance of fans.
Arena Coventry Ltd holds the
keys to the Ricoh---and the foot-
ball team s future. At a creditors
meeting yesterday, the stadium s
operators blocked a bid by the
club to exit administration.
As a result, Coventry s parent
company will be put into liqui-
The immediate implication
was a ten-point penalty handed
to Coventry yesterday, which still
allows it compete in League One
in the Football League s 125th
season, starting today at Craw-
"We now have certainty and
the club s future is secured,"
Coventry chief executive Tim
Fisher said. "We can now get on
and put our future plans into
action which means building and
owning our own stadium in the
Stadium operator ACL is co-
owned by a charity and Coventry
City Council whose offices are
adorned by a Fifa pennant hon-
oring the "lasting legacy of the
Olympics" to Coventry.
Football League chairman Greg
Clarke said his board is "dis-
mayed at the level of intransi-
gence being shown" by the sta-
dium owners and the club s
"It is a source of immense
frustration to everyone involved
that the two parties in this dis-
pute have failed to reach any
agreement," said Clarke, who is
in charge of running the three
divisions below the Premier
The league has backed Otium
Entertainment Group---named as
the administrators preferred bid-
der---to take control of the club
from the hedge fund SISU, which
has owned Coventry since 2007.
That, though, has been opposed
by fans, the stadium owners and
the tax authority, who are owed
ACL lawyer James Powell said
Otium s proposals do "not give
stability to Coventry," and the
Sky Blue Trust urged authorities
against making a "bad situation
any worse" by handing over con-
trol of the club to them.
ACL, whose offer of annual
rent of £150,000 (US$230,000)
has been rejected, has concerns
that Otium is connected with the
existing owners following a "cat-
astrophic insolvency," Powell said.
"It is does not seem a fair and
equitable outcome," he added.
SAO PAULO---With the World Cup
less than a year away, Fifa is pledg-
ing to increase its monitoring of
stadium construction in Brazil.
Secretary General Jerome Valcke
said yesterday that with preparations
entering the final stages, the focus
will be on making sure Brazil can
have all 12 stadiums ready for foot-
ball s showcase event which will kick
off in June 2014.
There were several delays in sta-
dium delivery for the Confederations
Cup earlier this year and Fifa has
made it clear that it will not tolerate
the same problems again. Brazil has
to deliver the final six World Cup
venues by the end of the year.
Valcke said the Confederations
Cup was a success but admitted that
there were "a few challenges and
deficiencies" that need to be
addressed for next year.
"For us organisers a key focus is
now on the 12 stadia, with a tighter
monitoring naturally on the six are-
nas still under construction," Valcke
said in his monthly column released
by Fifa. "The essential key to success
of next year s flagship event is that
we can start setting up the comple-
mentary infrastructure...as of early
2014 across all stadia---earlier than
we managed for the Confederations
Cup in order to allow time for proper
testing and adjustments."
Only two of the six Confederations
Cup venues were completed by the
original December deadline set up
by Fifa for the warm-up tournament,
and some were only delivered just
before the competition began. There
was a lot of unfinished infrastructure
work around nearly all of the venues,
and local organisers were not able
to host the ideal number of test
events at the stadiums.
"You cannot expect everything to
run perfectly in brand new stadia,"
Valcke said. "That is where we will
concentrate our efforts, as we seek
to ensure the Fifa World Cup will
be a roaring success for the teams,
the fans and, most importantly, for
the host nation Brazil."
The secretary general said that
immediately after the Confederations
Cup everyone involved started to sit
down and assess what "we have
learned, and we are set to strengthen
any weak links" over the next few
"The preparations for football s
flagship event have now really grown
into a huge collective undertaking
between sports and host country
stakeholders, as the works continue
apace," Valcke said. "There is only
11 months to go before the whistle
is blown in Sao Paulo for the opening
match and the tournament can start
Fifa probe of Blazer
allegations delayed to 2014
Fifa prosecutors have put their probe of al-
leged financial corruption by American offi-
cial Chuck Blazer on hold until next year.
Fifa says lead investigator Robert Torres
had found unspecified "circumstances which
made it advisable to provisionally suspend"
Blazer, who represented the United States
on Fifa's board from 1996 until leaving foot-
ball this year, is accused of embezzling at
least US$21 million while general secretary of
the Concacaf confederation working along-
side disgraced former president Jack Warner.
Fifa's ethics committee suspended Blazer
for 90 days in May while it investigated
spending and commissions from contracts
detailed in an audit of Concacaf finances.
Blazer's whistleblower role in a 2011
bribery scandal helped Fifa remove Warner
and former presidential candidate Mohamed
bin Hammam from their football duties, and
ensured Sepp Blatter won re-election.
Bale fee would be
a joke, says Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes
Gareth Bale's proposed world record transfer
to Real Madrid would make a joke of UEFA's
Financial Fair Play regulations.
Tottenham is in talks with Madrid regard-
ing a potential transfer for Bale, with reports
saying the fee would exceed the record 80-
million pounds that Madrid paid Manchester
United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
Financial Fair Play aims to stop clubs en-
tering European competitions from repeat-
edly spending more than they earn.
Wenger says "it's quite amazing in the year
when Financial Fair Play comes in, world
football goes completely crazy.
"You wonder what kind of impact and ef-
fect it has on the football world. It looks like it
has made everybody worse than before. It
makes a joke of it."
had heart ailment
Ecuadorean football officials say an au-
topsy has revealed that an arterial heart ail-
ment provoked the heart attack that killed
striker Christian Benitez.
Football federation president Luis Chiri-
boga says doctors reported the ailment could
not be detected before Benitez died Monday
in Qatar. They found it during a second au-
topsy conducted after his body arrived back
in Ecuador yesterday.
The 27-year-old striker had gone to Qatar
to play for the El Jaish club in July after
spending several years in Mexico.
Argentine tax chief aims at
fraud in player trades
Argentina's tax chief says his agency has
found more fraud in football: about 150 ef-
forts to buy and sell players in ways that
evade taxes and launder money.
Tax chief Ricardo Etchegary cites the case
of Fernando Gago, who was transferred from
the Spanish team Valencia to Argentina's
Boca Juniors. He also mentions Teofilo
Gutierrez, a Colombian player sold by Mex-
ico's Cruz Azul to Argentina's River Plate.
A worker cleans the seats at the city of Coventry stadium, in Coventry, England, ahead of the 2012
Summer Olympics. Coventry, the 1987 FA Cup winners, plunged into the third tier as a bitter dispute
between the hedge fund that owns the club and the Ricoh landlords escalated. AP PHOTO
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