Rugby League: Eagles losing battle to stay in Sheffield

Sheffield Eagles coach and chief executive Mark Aston is battling to keep the club playing in Sheffield
Sheffield Eagles coach and chief executive Mark Aston is battling to keep the club playing in Sheffield
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Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston has launched a last ditch bid to keep the club playing in the city.

Aston claims “doors have closed” on the rugby league club’s desperate attempts to find a home ground after Don Valley Stadium closes.

“I don’t know where Sheffield Eagles will be playing next year. I’ve not got the answer,” said Aston who is also the club’s chief executive.

A forced move out of the city will raise fears that the Eagles might not start next season with Aston commenting “there’s a massive danger for everything”.

Work to demolish Don Valley - the Eagles home since 1990 - is due to start at the end of the month as part of Sheffield city council cuts.

Woodbourn Athletics Stadium is being brought out of mothballs at a cost of £750,000, proving a base for local athletes and a training base for Olympic star Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Aston feels that the needs of the Eagles - who are the current Championship title holders and famously won the Challenge Cup in 1998 - have been pushed to one side by the city council.

Hopes of finding a short-term home at Sheffield Hallam University’s Bawtry Road Sports Complex, which will be their training base next year, have been dashed. To play Championship games there would have involved building a 500-seater temporary stand and turnstiles.

Aston added: “I have been hanging my hat on a project now that door has been closed and I fear we will have to move out of Sheffield to play rugby league and that’s criminal.

“We’ve been everywhere, we’ve knocked on every door and there is nothing. I have no idea.”

He added: “I have drawn a blank I have tried every football club, everything we can. “There’s a significant investment into Woodbourn Road for the athletics which is great and we’re highly delighted but where’s the relocation for Sheffield Eagles?”

On a possible move to Woodbourn Aston added: “Ask the council? It’s been turned into an athletics stadium.

“Everything has to be an option or we are going out of the city.

“We have worked hard and it guts me that people aren’t helping.”