Scottish Premier League

Lennon: Outgoing players are heroes

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Fri, 17 May 2013 22:17:00

Coventry have confirmed they will definitely not be returning to the Ricoh Arena next season.

Chief executive Tim Fisher has revealed the club are instead in the process of securing a site in the local area on which to build a new stadium.

Fisher says that whilst the new ground is being constructed, they will groundshare with another club, with their plans to be presented to the Football League at the start of June.

The move comes following a year-long rent row with Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Ricoh Arena on behalf of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council.

Fisher said: "It's a new era and we retained specialists some months ago to advise us on where to build a new stadium for the club - and in the immediate Coventry area by the way".

City claim they did not want to leave the Ricoh but they had to make the move because "the doors locked on us".

In a statement of their own on Thursday, ACL said "our doors remain open to the Sky Blues".

But asked if there is any chance of Coventry playing at the Ricoh Arena next season, Fisher replied: "None.

"People have to understand we do not posture, we do not threaten, because that is not how you do business, you only do business in good faith. Always.

"We have started the process of procuring land so that we can shift the new stadium build forward at a pace. The stadium will be in the Coventry area in accordance with Football League rules."

Fisher added: "We have left the Ricoh Arena.

"We were told categorically by ACL and by the council that there was no commercial deal to be done and in actual fact they would only ever work with the administrator.

"We were very, very clear in our minds as to exactly what was intended. Given the position we have had to make contingency plans to fulfil our fixtures on an interim basis - while we deliver the long-term vision.

"That long-term vision has us playing in the Coventry area in a new stadium that will be designed and delivered in three years.

"All this will be in full consultation with the fans - starting with the upcoming forums. In consideration of financial fair play then we will own all the revenue streams that come from matchday and, non-matchday activities, and therefore we will have every chance of becoming a solid, vibrant club."

Ferdinand, who has spent over a decade at United under Sir Alex Ferguson, has not yet agreed an extension on his current deal that runs out this summer.

And the 34-year-old, who won his sixth Premier League title this season, announced on Wednesday he was retiring from England duty in order to concentrate on club matters.

And United boss Ferguson said: "I think it is something he could have done last year.

"Ending his international career will definitely help him, as it did with Paul Scholes, and hopefully Manchester United will get the benefit of that."

But Fotheringham will be in no mood to do Inverness a favour on Sunday.

County will stop Caley Thistle qualifying for the Europa League if they win or draw and St Johnstone beat Motherwell.

But the rivalry on the pitch will not extend beyond those confines.

And, for a player who began his career at Celtic, Fotheringham welcomes the mutual respect.

Fotheringham said: "I was in the gym the other day having a stretch on our day off and I bumped into one of the Inverness guys and I was up shaking his hand. It's nice to see the lads.

"It's not like that type of atmosphere when I was a kid at Celtic and I had to hide in the bottom of a taxi and had my green colours on coming home from a game and there was an Orange walk.

"It's nothing like that, up here it's all about the good, friendly atmosphere.

"When the whistle blows, we are competitive guys so we are going out there to win the game and that's the only thing on our minds."

Fotheringham added: "We know it's a derby and you have got to go out and win for the bragging rights for the fans.

"We are just glad both teams are doing well for the Highlands. It's good for this part of Scotland."

County have not beaten Inverness this season in five games but Fotheringham has no inferiority complex, especially with both games at the Global Energy Stadium ending in draws.

"We are not too bothered about records because in the games so far we have given a really good account of ourselves," he said.

"But the main thing is to get points on the board and we want to win the game and finish the season on a high."

Lennon's Scottish Communities League Cup-winning squad will be together for the final time when they take on Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Lennon this week told striker Sam Parkin and midfielder Graham Carey they would not be offered new deals and he advised four contracted players to find new clubs.

Loan players Paul Dummett, Conor Newton and Esmael Goncalves are due to return to their parent clubs while goalkeeper Craig Samson has rejected an offer amid interest from Motherwell and Kilmarnock and playmaker Paul McGowan is keen on a switch to England.

Lennon said: "This is a difficult stage of the season for any manager and it's inevitable that players that you want to stay are going to go and arguably go on to better things, and there are players that want to stay but have to go.

"And there are players out there that we have identified that we want to bring in and will try to get business done sooner rather than later.

"But the group of players we have had here, it's a remarkable achievement what they have done.

"Their season is going to be remembered for winning the League Cup for the first time in the club's history and every single one of them that go out the door will go out with their heads held high, and they will be remembered at this football club for the rest of their days."

Lennon admitted he found it hard to tell players their services were no longer required.

"It's never an easy part and it's a part of the job that you don't like," he said.

"But you have got to be honest and be true to yourself and do what you feel is the best for your football club.

"And for these players that do go, we wish them and their families well.

"I've had conversations with players who are still under contract and laid it on the table to them where they stand.

"And I'm sure they are ambitious and want to go out and play.

"A club our size can't afford to carry that and it's important the club, the players and their representatives work close in hand to try to achieve that outcome."

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