Sheffield Eagles look set for talks with Kevin McCabe after the Olympic Legacy Park officially confirmed his Scarborough Group International company as their recommended choice to develop the site.
Eagles released a statement last week confirming that a decision was set to go against them, but full ratification is still required from Sheffield City Council.
In a statement from the OLP, crucially for the first time, it has confirmed that discussions will be entered with the Eagles to ensure they are accommodated on the site.
Legacy Park Project lead Richard Caborn said: “Following discussions at the Board meeting we have recommended to Sheffield City Council, as Landowner, that it enters into a land transaction with Scarborough Group International for the development of a Stand and other linked facilities.
“In light of this decision, representatives of Sheffield Eagles have been informed with a view to enabling constructive discussions on accommodating the Club at the proposed stadium.”
Further discussions are planned with the Eagles next week where the club will again reiterate their urgent need to return to the city for 2018.
Eagles will be relying on Scarborough Group to have the site ready for RFL requirements, or face holding out the begging bowl for somewhere to play while the site is developed.
Scarborough Group International boss McCabe said: “We welcome the discussions as we move forward in working together on the development of a community stadium at the Olympic Legacy Park. We need to clarify certain criteria in the process but we are more than happy to work with the Sheffield Eagles.”
It looks certain that the local authority will give Scarborough Group the green light, whilst the Eagles must now pin their hopes that they can come to an arrangement to ensure rugby league returns to the Steel City.
Eagles were keen, with their unnamed backer, to have the full development rights for the site, in order to secure vital funding streams which have been lacking during their time on the road.
Chairman Chris Noble MBE has previously warned that if the club don’t return to Sheffield in some capacity next season, they will struggle to survive another campaign on the road.
“We have done five seasons away and that’s five years of very little sponsorship, and a spectator base which has gradually decreased,” he previously told The Star. “The costs of running the club have gone up and we have been left trapped in a corner.”
* Eagles hope to keep Jack Owens, but director Mark Aston admits competition is likely for the in-form operator.
Owens signed a permanent deal with Eagles until the end of the season, whilst a recent switch into the halves has also proved a successful venture for the ex-St Helens ace.
Now the task is to keep hold of the 23-year-old, with Aston recognising that there will be interest from elsewhere. Whilst not being able to offer a full-time contract, the Eagles have given Owens a platform to excel and Aston will be looking to call on what has been a successful pairing in a bid to keep Owens.
“The dream of every player is to play at the highest level which is Super League,” Aston said.
“We wouldn’t stand in anyone’s way. Is he a recognised as a half-back? No. Is he recognised as a full-back? Yes. We now need to give him the detail to become a good half-back too so there’s another string to his bow. Will anyone take him? If they do, that’s fine, if they don’t he loves it her. The important thing is to get the best out of the players and they enjoy what they do.”
Aston added: “He comes in with a smile on his face, he is a great kid and he wants to be better. That’s a good trait to have as a youngster making their way up through the systems.”
Owens produced a dominant display after being moved from his full-back position into the halves for the recent comprehensive victory over Oldham. He maintained his place, playing a role as the Eagles squeezed past Swinton last weekend, and looks set to stay there for the remainder of the campaign.
“He has been outstanding,” Aston added.
“I have to say that the changes we made, we were a little apprehensive about them. Until the Oldham game we hadn’t seen Jack play at six, but he has certainly given us a new dimension.
“He controlled the Oldham game, which we didn’t know he could do, obviously he can kick a ball, but he has shown that he has got a running game too.”