'Firmer footing' for rugby and women's football as Blades owner strikes Olympic Legacy Park deal

The new 3G pitch at the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe.
The new 3G pitch at the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe.
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Sheffield United's co-owner is winning the race to build a new sports stadium that could provide a permanent home for rugby and women's football in the city.

The board of the Olympic Legacy Park, or OLP, has chosen Kevin McCabe's Scarborough Group to develop stands around the completed 3G pitch at the complex in Attercliffe.

Sheffield United co-owner and Scarborough Group founder Kevin McCabe

Sheffield United co-owner and Scarborough Group founder Kevin McCabe

Early indications are that it will be the new home of Sheffield United Ladies FC.

Sheffield Eagles RLFC had hoped to find the money to build the stadium itself in order to create a permanent home for its first team, which currently plays 'home' matches in Wakefield.

That investment, which depended on a green power plant also being built, has not yet materialised. But OLP project lead Richard Caborn said the commitment to the rugby club remained.

"We have made it absolutely clear to everyone who made an approach that it would also be the home for Sheffield Eagles," the former sports minister said.

Olympic Legacy Park project lead Richard Caborn

Olympic Legacy Park project lead Richard Caborn

"We spent a lot of money for a 3G pitch. It's one of the best pitches in the country now for playing rugby on.

"We will have delivered everything they want in terms of a pitch and floodlighting."

The club has struggled to find a home since Don Valley Stadium - where the OLP now sits - closed in September 2013. The first team has played around Sheffield, in Doncaster, and this season in Wakefield.

Last summer the club was forced to rely on a supporters' campaign, which raised £20,000, to keep it going.

Sheffield Eagles playing in Wakefield this season.

Sheffield Eagles playing in Wakefield this season.

The Eagles had hoped to get full development rights for the stadium in order to maximise possible revenue.

But Mr Caborn said the promise of a permanent home would still help the commercial and corporate potential of the Eagles, bringing 'sustainable' income.

"That should, I hope, get them onto a much firmer footing," he said.

"There's good will to make sure it happens. We all want the Eagles to play there - no-one more than myself, because I promised them."

Sheffield United Ladies could play at the OLP.

Sheffield United Ladies could play at the OLP.

The club will now meet with Scarborough Group to discuss the way forward.

Eagles chairman Chris Noble MBE has previously warned the club will struggle to survive another season away from Sheffield.

“We have done five seasons away and that’s five years of very little sponsorship, and a spectator base which has gradually decreased,” he said.

"The costs of running the club have gone up and we have been left trapped in a corner.”

The pitch will also be used by Oasis Academy Don Valley pupils and UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park students during the day, and will be open to the community at certain times as well.

And if Scarborough Group's plans come to fruition, it could be a big boost for the women's game in the city.

How the finished OLP should look, minus the stadium.

How the finished OLP should look, minus the stadium.

Sheffield United Community Ladies FC came under the Blades banner in September last year, dropping the 'community' label. The first team currently plays at Swallownest Miners Welfare Club in Rotherham Road - and was this year crowned East Midlands Premier League champion - but a move to the OLP would give much greater exposure.