Sheffield Eagles handed possible lifeline

Sheffield Eagles could be saved from extinction, after Sheffield City Council responded to the club’s claims of foot-dragging and dishonesty when it came to the construction of a new stadium for the club.

The Council has now promised to work together with the investor who wants to construct a £35million in the city, and build a new stadium for the Eagles as part of the development.

He will also invest in the Eagles so that they are debt free moving forward. The stadium would be sited on the Olympic Legacy Park in Sheffield.

Eagles CEO John Whaling issued a strongly worded statement this week, in which he questioned the honesty of council officers, who seemed to be taking too much time to iron out the bureacratic issues associated with the construction of the stadium.

But now, it seems, a phone call from the anonymous investor to the council has eased the logjam, and progress now looks more likely.

The investor has apparently spoken to Simon Green, the council’s executive director of place.

“Sometimes you have to bang a few heads to get where you want to go,” the investor told the Sheffield Star.

“But you have to do it in a structure. The priority is to get the stadium off the ground.

“I trust in the guy and I think we can work together. He’s given me his assurances that we will get on with things.

“At the end of the day, we have got a business model that’s got built into it a plan to fund the Eagles. The idea with the stadium is it’s debt-free.

“We are talking about building an education centre for kids on energy. Putting in a picnic area. We have ticked every box under the sun.

“It’s not ticking it for the sake of it.

I have not asked them to commit in writing. We understand there is a process to go through.

“But we are saying whatever it takes we will deliver. How can you object to that?”

The investor has three similar power plants in other locations, and he expects to make reasonable profits on the enterprise.

He intends to sell energy to Sheffield at 8.5p per kilowatt for the next 10 years, which could save the council up to £2million a year.

Mr Green insists that the project is feasible, though he admits he was disappointed by the way in which the Eagles have reacted.

“We are continuing to talk to each other,” he said. “There is no issue of talks having paused or broken down.

“If he wants to put a power plant on the land in question that’s fine, but it will be subject to the usual covenants and regulations,” said Mr Green.

“You wouldn’t want us to change planning policy overnight and I think he knows that as well. And perhaps the Eagles have misunderstood the timeframe to get that through the process.”

“We are disappointed that it has come to this. We are disappointed at how they have reacted to the position we are in.

“I can appreciate that when they are facing financial difficulties and there is a perception that a particular line of inquiry is closed they would react in a different way.”

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