Extinction threat as time is against Sheffield Eagles takeover

John Whaling
John Whaling
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Chief executive John Whaling says he will continue to gather as much support as possible as the fight to save Sheffield Eagles enters a critical phase.

With their preferred bidder away on holiday and seemingly disillusioned with lack of progress with Sheffield Council, the Eagles are facing the grim reality of extinction if a deal cannot be found.

The investor won’t buy the club unless he gets the green light to build a power station in the lower Don Valley. After months of talks, the investor has been told to re-apply for planning permission on the area, with a minimum turnaround of eight weeks – too long to save the stricken club.

Whaling says, while exasperated with the situation, he will continue to fight tooth and nail to save the ailing club, which includes looking for new land for the investor’s multi-million-pound plans.

“I will be making phone calls, having meetings, you name it,” Whaling told The Star.

“Mark Aston (head coach) and I will be out there in the public and trying to rally around and gain as much support as we can. We are having a look to see if any more land can be identified that would be suitable that we don’t need to change planning permission for.”

The major stumbling is time. The Eagles have enough money in the pot for three to four weeks.

For the preferred deal to go through it would seem that there are two options. The first would be to find land that will receive planning permission in four weeks. The other is to try to find small pockets of funding to keep the club alive long enough for a takeover to be completed.

There is also the problem now of convincing the potential new owner that it is still a deal worth considering, after Whaling confirmed his interest is all but over due to the lack of progress.

“I am trying to contact him but he is away with his family,” he added.

“I am still hopeful that he will change his mind, but even if he does we need the council to help, and I think the timescales will still be wrong.”

At present, any potential deal with another party is also unlikely because of the lack of time. If a deal cannot be reached then administration, a points deduction and relegation are all on the cards.