Sheffield Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston says that he ‘fears for the club’ if they don’t get the go-ahead to return to Sheffield in 2018.
The Eagles are one of three bidders for the stadium at the Olympic Legacy Park, with Aston already assured that if he isn’t successful, the winning bidder must accept the Eagles will play on the site.
The problem for Aston is if the Eagles are only tenants, the site isn’t likely to be ready for 2018, leaving the club again scratching around for somewhere to play for another season.
Whilst one more year doesn’t seem an issue in light of their nomadic existence since leaving Don Valley, Aston says it could mean the end as their fan base and sponsorship continue to dwindle.
“The big thing is about how we can get this club back to the city by 2018,” Aston told The Star.
“That is a massive thing for us because if we are not back in the city by next year, I fear for the club. I am not entirely sure the authorities will let us play outside the city again, certainly not at Wakefield that’s for sure. We need to be back in the city for 2018. We will have a plan to be able to do that, but we need that to be rubber stamped by the Olympic Legacy Park and the council.”
Aston remains confident that his bid will win the rights to develop the stadium, which would be a major boost as the club would finally benefit from secondary spend. During their time on the road the club don’t receive a penny from any matchday food and drink sales – a vital source of income for all clubs.
The Eagles now must ensure that no stone is left unturned as they look to win over the OLP and council, and Aston says plans are being stepped up to ensure their bid wins over the panel.
“All systems go at the moment on that front,” he added.
“I had a meeting recently with our investor, we have spoken to architects and people looking at stadium solutions. We all had a big meeting to talk about what we can do around the site, and it was very positive. There was a real positive input going into that, and it was good to hear about how we can all make this happen.”