Struggling Sheffield Eagles may have to take a step backwards

Eagles director John Whaling
Eagles director John Whaling
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Sheffield Eagles chief executive John Whaling hasn’t ruled out the possibility of going back part-time as the club continues to seek fresh investment.

With current chairman Ian Swire departing at the end of the season, the club’s full-time status could potentially be under threat. Eagles switched to full-time status in November last year, helped by an investor who has since pulled all funding out of the club.

After finishing third as a part-time club last season, Eagles have struggled during the current campaign and currently face a fight to retain their place in the Championship. Whaling admitted that while the search for new investors continues, the Eagles’ full-time status cannot be guaranteed.

“I can’t really say one way or another at this stage” Whaling said. “We have obviously got players on contracts, and we are where are with that. Was it the right decision (to go full-time)? In hindsight, probably not, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. If you look at the way we played last season with some of the squad training full-time, and the majority of the squad being part-time, we arguably had a better squad last year.

“That is a little rough on the players who have come in because when you change as many players as we had to, it obviously takes time to gel. We have also had injuries which hasn’t helped. I don’t think there is an answer at the moment to whether it is best to be part-time or full-time.”

The decision on what status the Eagles move forward depends on potential future funding. By not finishing in the top four this season, Whaling estimates that club will lose out up to £300,000.

Meanwhile, on the playing front, director Mark Aston is currently running the rule over two French trialists who are training with the team this week.

Aston also came close to landing a loan singing from Hull FC last week, and has been told he can add to his squad should the right players become available.

After five straight defeats, the Eagles now sit third from bottom with Aston desperate to inject some fresh blood to help turn around his side’s fortunes.

Eagles face Swinton Lions this Sunday at Heywood Road, kick off 3pm.