Fresh doubt over Sheffield stadium plans

1895 Cup winners Sheffield Eagles face yet another frustrating delay in their hopes for a new stadium, following a change of ownership at Sheffield United FC.

The Eagles lost out on the bid to develop the stadium at the Olympic Legacy Park to Kevin McCabe’s Scarborough Group International Limited, with plans for Sheffield United’s women’s team to play there.

But McCabe lost his ownership of the Blades following High Court proceedings this week, with H.R.H. Prince Abdullah bin Mosa’ad Abdulaziz Al Sa’ud taking control.

It raises doubts as to whether the stadium development will go ahead.

An Eagles club statement said: “Further to the court decision earlier this week, Mr McCabe no longer controls ownership of Sheffield United FC and subsequently his interest in developing a stadium at the Olympic Legacy Park is whilst doubtful, yet to be confirmed.

“The club is currently in open & continued dialogue with Sheffield United FC, Sheffield City Council & The Rugby Football League surrounding this urgent matter.

“We envisage an answer to the club’s pressing questions relating to the lease, ownership and development of the Olympic Legacy Park as soon as possible as to ensure a bright and positive future for Sheffield Eagles within the city.

“Plans for the stadium have been submitted with planning approval for them agreed. Despite the current concerns this is a hugely positive move forward to hopefully develop at long last a suitable and permanent home from which to develop rugby league in Sheffield.

“As soon as the club has further information we will update all accordingly and as always we thank all those associated with the club for their continued patience and fantastic support.”

Sheffield have played at the Olympic Legacy Park for the past two seasons, but only after receiving dispensation from the RFL to do so, as the ground in its current state doesn’t meet Championship minimum standards.

A couple of temporary stands were removed earlier this week so that construction work could commence, leaving just one small seated stand at the ground, but no progress has been made.

The plans were for an initial 3,900-capacity stadium that would open in 2020, including an initial 788 seats with approval granted for an extension as and when required.