Coventry set to leave Ricoh

Holland coach Louis van Gaal believes his side cannot afford to

take the challenge of Estonia lightly when the two teams meet in a

World Cup qualifier at the Amsterdam ArenA on Friday night.

The Dutch have enjoyed a flawless start to their Group D

campaign, with victories over Turkey, Hungary, Andorra and Romania

in their opening four fixtures.

Van Gaal’s men are three points clear at the top of the

standings and will face off against an Estonia side that have lost

three of their four matches, with their sole victory over group

minnows Andorra.

But former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Van Gaal is

refusing to believe the eastern Europeans will be a pushover.

“The expectations will be high, the audience will probably have

a score of 5-0 in their head,” he told a press conference.

“But that is just more difficult, especially given that the

system Estonia play, with two rows of four and just one

striker.”

Van Gaal is likely to include Wesley Sneijder in his starting XI

after the playmaker missed the last four Holland games due to

injury and lack of match fitness, having been frozen out by former

club Inter Milan.

The 28-year-old’s move to Turkish outfit Galatasaray in January

has given him a new lease of life and his return will be a welcome

one.

The group leaders are without Tim Krul due to ankle problem and

Klaas Jan Huntelaar (knee) although Maarten Stekelenburg is the

probable option between the posts after missing Holland’s last two

matches with an injury.

Hungary and Romania, both on nine points, are contesting a

play-off spot although they will be hoping to keep the pressure on

the Dutch when they clash at an empty Ferenc Puskas Stadium in

Budapest.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport last week rejected an appeal

from the Hungarian Football Federation against having to play

against Romania behind closed doors for racist behaviour by

fans.

FIFA’s disciplinary committee found a group of Hungary

supporters had chanted anti-Semitic abuse and displayed offensive

symbols in their friendly against Israel in Budapest last

August.

Hungary boss Sandor Egervari is in confident mood despite the

fact they have been denied home support.

“Of course, we expect to win this ‘six-point’ game, especially

because we meet a rival, which is also a chance to better our

chances of finishing first or second in the group,” he said at a

press conference.

Friday’s final group match sees Turkey travel to Andorra and

visiting coach Abdullah Avci insists his side will not be

underestimating the threat posed by Friday’s hosts.

Andorra have won just one competitive match – against Macedonia

at home in a 2006 World Cup qualifier – but Avci is not taking

victory for granted.

“A Turkish national football team will follow the opponent

extremely seriously,” the Turkey boss told reporters.

The League One club’s owners SISU are in talks over relocating

to an alternative home venue in the West Midlands after taking

action they believe will prevent the football business entering

administration at the High Court on Friday.

Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Ricoh Arena, claim

?1.3m is owed in unpaid rent and want the football club placed in

administration – a penalty which usually carries a 10-point

deduction under Football League rules.

But on the eve of the hearing a statement on behalf of Coventry

City Football Club (Holdings) Ltd appeared on the club’s official

website announcing a “property subsidiary” was already in the hands

of administrators.

And, according to Sky sources, City believe their pre-emptive

action wipes out their debt to ACL while also putting them in

breach of contract with their landlords.

That means ACL can now prevent Coventry from playing future home

games at the Ricoh Arena, an outcome SISU have been preparing

for.

In the meantime, Sky sources say SISU believe Friday’s

administration hearing will go their way and are confident of

avoiding a points deduction which would effectively finish off

City’s chances of winning promotion this season.

Steven Pressley’s side are currently three points off the

play-off places and are due to play Doncaster on 30 March in their

next scheduled home fixture.

The full statement from Coventry City Football Club (Holdings)

Ltd:

“It is important to stress that the football club itself is not

under threat.

“This is merely a property subsidiary which owns no material

assets and has no employees, on or off the pitch.

“The Club can confirm that all staff wages, PAYE and all other

creditor commitments will continue to be met as before by Coventry

City Football Club Holdings.

“Unlike other instances of clubs being taken either wholly or

partially into administration, there are no HMRC or VAT

implications and the Football Club will continue to trade as normal

without interruption.

“Our main objective now is to remain competitive on the pitch

and give Steven Pressley and the playing staff our full backing and

commitment.”