Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley gives ‘assurances’ ahead of ‘eight figure’ takeover

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has given assurances to Coventry City Football Club as he closes in on a deal for the CBS Arena.

Coventry City chief executive Dave Boddy says Mike Ashley has given the Championship club “assurances” about continuing to play their home matches at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

The former Newcastle United owner is in pole position to become the CBS Arena’s new landlord after the current holders applied to enter administration earlier this month. Ashley was named as the preferred bidder and has exclusivity to purchase the arena until Thursday, November 17.

According to BBC reporter Simon Gilbert last week, the Sports Direct tycoon has “agreed an eight figure sum for the stadium company and intends to immediately buy the company out of administration.”

Furthermore, Ashley is believed to have held talks with Coventry City Council about adding a hotel and car park in addition to the hotel and casino already on-site. The 58-year-old has also moved to erase fears surrounding the Sky Blues’ future, who have been forced out of the stadium in the past.

Coventry City given assurances by Mike Ashley

Boddy, in his most recent matchday programme notes, said: “As we go into the World Cup break, the future of the Arena remains unclear. Since writing my notes for Tuesday’s excellent home victory over Wigan Athletic, it has been reported that Mike Ashley’s Fraser Group has an exclusivity period to buy the Coventry Building Society Arena.

“This period of time ends on November 17, when a decision will be made in the courts as to the future of Arena Coventry Limited.

“The Football Club has had brief initial discussions with the Fraser Group regarding the future of the Arena and their interest in it, and they have given us assurances that the Sky Blues continuing to play at the Arena is very much part of their plans, should they purchase the Arena.

“The situation is very fluid and outside of our control, but obviously of great importance to the Football Club and our supporters. We will endeavour to keep our fans updated as much as it is possible for us to do so over the coming weeks and months.”

An opportunity for Mike Ashley to return to football

If or when Ashley acquires the CBS Arena, the Daily Mail reports that Ashley will have a significant amount of control over Coventry’s commercial activities - putting him in a strong position to purchase the Coventry City at a knockdown price.

Ashley sold Newcastle United to the Public Investment of Saudi Arabia-backed consortium in October 2021 after a turbulent 14 years at St James’ Park. He attempted to buy Derby County in the summer, however local businessmen David Clowes won the race.

The owners of the CBS Arena, which also hosts beleaguered Premiership Rugby club Wasps, officially applied to enter administration on November 2. A spokesperson for Arena Coventry Ltd said: “The companies and the proposed administrators from FRP Advisory have run an accelerated sales process to sell the business and assets of the companies and have identified a preferred bidder.

“The Arena will continue to trade as normal. We would like to thank all the working parties involved in helping the companies get to this stage and we are delighted that the doors will remain open to this flagship venue.”