Wasps CEO Stephen Vaughan is “saddened” by criticisms of the Coventry City pitch.
Wasps CEO Stephen Vaughan is “saddened” by criticisms of the Coventry City pitch. Wasps Group CEO Stephen Vaughan says he is sad that the Premiership rugby club is being criticized for having an “unsafe pitch.” Rugby was played at the stadium during the Commonwealth Games, so Coventry City had to move their first home game of the season. The Carabao Cup match at home on Wednesday has also been moved to Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium.
Here’s what Vaughan said!
“In May we informed CCFC we would not be relaying the pitch,” Vaughan said. “No objection was raised to that course of action then or at any other time. We were saddened to see that information and stories have been put out in the press without our prior knowledge, and this message has been relayed to the football club.”
Vaughan also said that the stadium’s contract to host events for the Commonwealth Games was signed before Coventry decided to move back there in March 2021.
“They were fully aware of the timetable of events.”
The Field and the Movement
Vaughan says that City was told that their first few home games of the season should be moved because the field wouldn’t be ready in time after being used so much.
“But we were informed by CCFC that this was not possible,” he said.
“Sixty-five rugby sevens matches were played at the Arena in three days and a pitch, new or established, could not withstand that amount of wear and tear, and then be in pristine condition a week later, regardless of the efforts of the ground staff. Maintaining a pitch with two sports on it is always a challenge, so the recent unique set of circumstances has been particularly difficult and has naturally put the pitch under enormous strain.”
“Despite what some may think, we want CCFC to play all their home games here, and it benefits no-one when there are issues such as this played out in public with incorrect or missing information.”
Vaughan said that Coventry’s Carabao Cup game was moved “without a further pitch inspection.” He also said that he hoped the club would “feel they are able” to play their next Championship home game against Wigan on August 16 at the stadium.
“We have agreed that an independent agronomist selected by the EFL can come to the arena and carry out their own inspection of the pitch. We hope they feel it is able to be played on and I know, as professionals, they are aware and understand the circumstances surrounding the pitch recently.”
Wasps and More
Wasps were City’s landlords when they moved in, but they bought the field in December 2014, not long after the Sky Blues returned to the city after 14 months in Northampton because of a rent dispute. But their money has been tight, especially since the COVID pandemic. So in June, they asked the West Midlands Combined Authority for millions of pounds in public money.
Arena Coventry Ltd. shared ownership of the stadium. Part of the money for this company came from a trust fund set up by a Sky Blues fan when the team first moved there in 2005. This was after the controversial sale of their old home, Highfield Road, for housing. Then, because of another disagreement, City played at St. Andrew’s in Birmingham for two years before moving back to Coventry last year.