Port Vale: We'd help out Coventry City, says Norman Smurthwaite
PORT Vale would allow cash-strapped Coventry City to play at Vale Park, chief executive Norman Smurthwaite has revealed.
The Sky Blues could be forced out of the Ricoh Arena in a row over unpaid rent.
The League One side have a Boxing Day deadline to settle a £1.1m bill from stadium owners Arena Coventry Ltd or face a winding-up petition.
City are thought to have held provisional talks with Blue Square North side Hinckley United, but Coventry-born millionaire Smurthwaite says Vale would help out.
"If City end up needing a stadium, I'd be prepared to do a ground share," he said.
"They haven't asked, but I'd to do it until the end of this season, though I wouldn't do it next season because we'll be playing them in League One.
"We certainly wouldn't let them come for free. But I would enter dialogue with them."
Smurthwaite, who completed his £1.25m takeover of the Valiants with chairman Paul Wildes last month, can see the benefits of the move.
"I wouldn't make them an offer of using our ground – they'd have to come to me," he added, "but it would put us in a better place from a networking point of view.
"We could accommodate them on a pay-as-you-play arrangement, as long as it didn't conflict with our schedule.
"I grew up in Coventry, but it wouldn't be a decision I make with my heart. It would be a commercial arrangement for the benefit of this club and it applies to any club, not just them."
A Football League spokesman said any ground-share proposal would need the approval of the board.
"The clubs would need to agree the principals and practicalities of any arrangement and come to us with a proposal," he said.
"It's something we would need to look into."
Port Vale Supporters' Club chairman Pete Williams believes it would be a good move.
"If we can bring in extra income for ourselves, then it's a win-win situation," he said.
"If we could help a fellow club in a difficult time, that would be great."