Lifeline for Sheffield Eagles as takeover talks begin - but team crashes to heavy Championship defeat

Eagles' chief executive John Whaling
Eagles' chief executive John Whaling
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Sheffield Eagles could have been handed a potential lifeline in their frantic bid to save the club from extinction.

With just weeks remaining to conclude a takeover to save rugby league in the Steel City, the club have confirmed that dialogue has now taken place between the council and their preferred investor aimed at a takeover of the club by November.

In a statement club chief executive John Whaling explained: “We now have the investor and the council talking to each other to try and move things along which is very good news, but we have lost time which could prove critical.

“We are now hopeful that the new investor can take over the club in November and meetings will be held over the next week or so to try and hammer out a deal. He has already stated that he will move the club back to part time.”

Whilst that is a major step forward there is still the stumbling block of finding the funds to take the club through October.

Supporters have rallied with an online fund raising close to £10,000, and rising, whilst Whaling may yet try and call on small pockets of money from the local business communities to give the club the time in desperately needs.

There is also the issue of the playing contracts which are full-time. With the club looking to revert back to a part-time operation, the players would have to re-negotiate, and their co-operation could be key if the club are to avoid administration which could result in relegation. Whaling added:

“It is important to stress that we have very little in the way of debt to creditors, what threatens to bring the club down is the playing contracts which were signed whilst we had top four money and can’t be cancelled now we are no longer a top four club, without the agreement of both parties.

“We are likely to receive between £250,000 and £300,000 less than we did for this season dependent on where we finish in the play offs. Interestingly the distribution for a side getting relegated from the Championship could be less than £100,000 lower, but they would have the right to cancel contracts, this is a big anomaly and one that threatens our club.

“We have started talks with the players to resolve the contract issue, but without their agreement the club will have to enter administration to cancel the contracts because they are simply unsustainable on the new distribution.”

* Meanwhile Eagles were condemned to a second straight Championship defeat with a 15-try, 80-0 demolition at Bradford Bulls yesterday. It took just two minutes for the Bulls to go ahead in a poor start from the Eagles with Lewis Charnock converting his own try after Quentin Laulu-Togagae had mistimed his run when trying to collect the scrum half’s grubber.

The Eagles had an immediate chance to level the scores after the kick off was allowed to bounce out of play but George Tyson was taken into touch close to the Bulls line.

Some sloppy play from Sheffield alongside more than questionable refereeing allowed Bradford to move into double figures and they never looked back, immediately bouncing back from last week’s shock defeat at Workington.

Bradford: Moss; Williams, Mellor, Welham, Ryan; Chisolm, Charnock; Sidlow, O’Brien, Kavanagh; Pitts, Addy; Olbison. Interchange: Ferguson, Clark, Oakes, Kirk.

Scorers: Charnock (2), Chisolm (13, 47), Olbison (15), Moss (25, 68, 71, 79), Ryan (31, 75), Pitts (33), Oakes (58, 61, 66), Sidlow (77). Goals: Charnock (5/7), Chisolm (4/7), Sidlow (1/1)

Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Lo, Tyson, Blackmore, Millar; Aston, Minchella; Thorpe, Carlile, Neal; Knowles, Straugheir; Wheeldon. Interchange: Worrincy, Fozard, Mexico, Burns.

Referee: Andy Sweet