Sheffield Eagles have been hit with a fresh delay as they await a decision on their planned move back into the city for 2018.
The club want to have a home at the Lower Don Valley’s Olympic Legacy Park, but there seems to be competition between their prospective investor and a rival business for the rights to develop the site and the structure of the ground.
A decision on who will get the go ahead was expected this month, but according to club chairman Chris Noble, that has now been pushed back to August 7. The delay could again leave the club without a base in the city for yet another season, with time against them to build the OLP to minimum RFL standards.
“The OLP have deferred their decision to early August - after that it has to be passed on to the council,” Noble said. “That means we won’t get a decision now until late August. The problem we have is that we are out of town, meaning our sponsorship and fan base is dwindling. Our income has fallen significantly; we need to get back into the city. RFL criteria means seating of at least 350, and after speaking to our investor he says it will now be very tight to get the stands ready for the start of next season. That’s of course if we are given the project.”
He added: “If it is delayed any longer we will again have to look elsewhere for next season.”
Provided they can find somewhere to play, Eagles will be able to survive financially.
But the club want the rights to develop the stadium to give them valuable income, and avoid a situation where they are again in a tenancy situation.
“At the moment there is nowhere in Sheffield that will allow us to play a full season there,” he added.
“We need help, at the very least we need the decision quick, so at least we know where we stand.
“If we don’t get it we need to start negotiating with whoever the other party is, ask when they plan to build the seating area. Part of the heads of agreement state that Sheffield Eagles have to be facilitated. However we will just become tenants at a rate which we don’t obviously know yet. We’ll have no say over when we can play.”
“We are aware that the Sheffield Eagles want to secure their long term playing future on the 3G pitch at the Olympic Legacy Park Sheffield.
Richard Caborn, chairman of Legacy Park Ltd. said: “We are aware that the Sheffield Eagles want to secure their long-term playing future on the 3G pitch at the Olympic Legacy Park Sheffield.
“We have received and are considering proposals from potential investors. Following last week’s board meeting, we have decided to do some further work associated with these submissions.
“A further update will be provided in August.”