Sheffield Eagles ‘let down again’ says Mark Aston after latest stadium setback
The club’s nine-year exile from Sheffield is almost over as they prepare to host Widnes Vikings to the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium on Monday, but not all fans will be able to welcome them home.
Scarborough Group International, the stadium’s owners, confirmed a restricted capacity of 800 will be in place until at least June.
Sheffield were expecting a crowd of between 1,000 and 1,200 people for the Betfred Championship clash.
“We have been let down again, as always seems to be the case,” said Eagles’ director of rugby Aston.
"It’s only little old Sheffield Eagles, if it was a football game it would be different.”
Tickets for Monday’s match have been taken off sale.
A Sheffield Eagles spokesperson said no ticket sales will need to be cancelled in light of the restriction on numbers.
Stephen Marriott, operations director at Scarborough Group International, said: “It is a legal requirement of the Safety Advisory Group that the Stadium operates under a restricted capacity of 800 supporters until we have received our official safety certification. This is to ensure that our safety processes and procedures are sufficiently robust and allow us time to review and, where necessary, refine or update them in advance of full opening.
“Unfortunately, the certificate cannot be granted until the stadium has reached practical completion in June.
“We are working closely with the various authorities, safety advisors and Sheffield Eagles to make sure the stadium is operating as safely as possible for all supporters and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
A spokesperson for Scarborough Group International refused to provide a more accurate timescale for the ‘practical completion’.
Sheffield Eagles are due to host York City Knights on June 2, Bradford Bulls 10 days later and Leigh Centurions on June 24.
The trio are among the best-supported clubs in the league, but Sheffield may now be unable to cash in on the potential for higher crowds.
Following the first phase of completion, it is understood the Community Stadium will have capacity for 1,320 spectators.
Once finished, it will hold 3,900 fans.
Sheffield have agreed a five-year stay at the ground.