Sheffield Eagles future could rest on £35m city expansion plan

Olympic Legacy Park as it looks currently. Picture: Andrew RoeOlympic Legacy Park as it looks currently. Picture: Andrew Roe
Olympic Legacy Park as it looks currently. Picture: Andrew Roe
Sheffield Eagles' future could hinge on a separate £35m deal affecting other business interests in the city.

The club, seeking new owners, are in discussions with the three parties with just over a month to preserve rugby league in Sheffield.

Eagles have been talking with one group for months, but whilst negotiations are at an advanced stage, the sticking point is with an unconnected investment the group are looking to put together.

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Chief Executive John Whaling says the group will only commit if they can secure their other business interests in the city. “The one that is most advanced, the hold up is that it is dependent on another piece of business” Whaling explained. “It’s a complicated deal because they are not just looking to take over the Eagles, it is part of a large investment they want to put into the area. They want to expand their current business into Sheffield and are looking to invest something like £30-£35m into the city.”

So whilst Eagles are ready to do a deal, they know the takeover will only go through if the potential investors get the green light on their expansion plan. That doesn’t help Whaling who has confirmed that the club can only continue in its present state until the end of the season. Disclosure contracts prevent Whaling going into detail, but he did reveal the wait is over rubber-stamping an identified plot of land to expand the consortium’s current business.

“The group has some great plans for the Olympic Legacy Park, and plans which will benefit the city as a whole,” Whaling added. “I can’t say what his business is, but he needs land, he has identified it, but needs to take it to the next stage. He just needs an agreement, then he will put pen to paper with us.”

Whaling has also pressed ahead with talks with two other contenders.

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There is also now the possibility of a very late bid from a fourth group, with Whaling holding initial talks at the start of this week.

On the field the Eagles secured their place in the Championship Shield semi-finals after beating Workington 62-0 at the weekend.