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DoubleD

Sheffield gaining record attendances but struggling with stadium costs

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Sheffield have pointed out plenty of positives in a recent statement but are immensely struggling to pay for their Olympic Legacy Park home.

The Eagles returned to the Steel City earlier this year after spending four years on the road due to the demolition of Don Valley Stadium.

The club has made big strides off the field though. Attendances are the highest they have been since their final year at Don Valley Stadium and commercial revenues are higher than anticipated, with many agreements in place for the next couple of years.

Sheffield are now working within the local community and partnered amateur clubs which they were forced to neglect due to their season-by-season life at four different stadiums between 2014 and 2017.

The Eagles claim they have big plans to grow rugby league further in the Sheffield region and have even brought on board two new directors to continue with the Scarborough Group and Sheffield United regarding next season and the future stadium to be built at the Olympic Legacy park.

However, there are ongoing issues with the amount of rent they need to pay for their Olympic Legacy Park home.

A statement read: “Last October, club chairman Chris Noble MBE and chief operating officer Liam Claffey met with leaders from Sheffield City Council, Legacy Park Limited, Pitch Operators Pulse & Richard Caborn.

“At this meeting, after detailed discussions Sheffield Eagles were asked what it could afford, it was explained to the meeting, the club could meet the same amount of funds stated it had to spend whilst the club were facilitated at Wakefield in 2017, circa £27,500, per annum for full use of facilities.

“A figure was given of £30,000 to facilitate the club at the Olympic Legacy Park in 2018 (more than the club has spent on any season, adding inflation whilst were at Don Valley Stadium which also included first team training and the club’s offices both of which are now separate additional costs).

“No parties suggested this was untenable and would require more investment than this however at this time, costs will stand nearly four times this by the end of the 2018 season. During certain meetings we had representation from The RFL who approved our 2018 budget based on this information. These costs are not only far more than what was budgeted but also in excess of what other clubs in our league pay to their local authority for use of facilities.

“Higher costs for facilities than agreed along with other costs not anticipated are now strangling the club and its future existence which is even more heart breaking after the hard work gone in to ensure the club returned to the city after our home was taken away from us in 2013.

“During our four-year life on the road the club never requested any support from Sheffield City Council or other parties associated with the Olympic Legacy Park and when the decision was taken to award the site to Sheffield United and Scarborough Group the club handled this decision with dignity and respect to ensure a smooth and as quick as possible development of a suitable stadium on the site.

“The club has now requested financial support from the City Council through a repayable loan (with interest) to bridge the gap until a stadium is built on the site but, disappointingly, there is “Little Appetite” from Sheffield City Council to grant this, even after a senior council official described the Olympic Legacy Park when handed to Sheffield Eagles to play as ‘we are renting to you a stadium not fit for purpose’ and strongly implied £40,000 of the costs towards temporary seating and toilets would be covered. Again, this support hasn’t materialised, and no assistance will come.

“The club and all those involved with it will continue to work extremely hard as they always have done to ensure the best future for Sheffield Eagles and Rugby League in the City but the odds, through no fault of our own, are sadly stacked against us once more.”

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Wow, appreciate I don’t know the full detail, but based on that statement alone it sounds like Sheffield have been incredibly naive through the whole process of moving to the new ‘ground’.

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I don't really understand this

Surely the club made an agreement with Sheffield City Council for the rental, and that was formalised in a written agreement handled by solicitors etc?

So how is it now 'costs will stand nearly four times this by the end of the 2018 season'? The Council can't just randomly start charging them more. Are we to believe that the Eagles just had a figure quoted by some bloke, and took it as binding, without getting it properly written down?

 

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1 hour ago, Odsal Outlaw said:

Wow, appreciate I don’t know the full detail, but based on that statement alone it sounds like Sheffield have been incredibly naive through the whole process of moving to the new ‘ground’.

   Well,the previous board of directors believed Richard Caborn!   '' A stadium like no other '' - not wrong there.

  One of the end paragraphs in this nonsense - http://www.sheffieldnewsroom.co.uk/sheffield-takes-the-lead-on-olympic-legacy/

   Then,Caborn awarded the 'stadium' to his mate,the part owner of Sheffield United and fella behind the Scarborough Construction group.Allegedly to build the stadium for the Sheffield United Ladies side.It now transpires that he is going to the High Court over the ownership of Sheffield United - https://www.thestar.co.uk/sport/football/sheffield-united/sheffield-united-battle-for-ownership-of-bramall-lane-could-be-decided-by-property-not-pound-notes-1-9253813

   Appears to be a competition between Wakefield Trinity and Sheffield Eagles for who can be told the most untruths.

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Either they signed a deal or they didn't. If they did sign a rental agreement it would have a specified amount. Including who would pay for facilities.

You wouldn't rent a house, lockup or office space on any other basis.

If they didn't, how on Earth can it be "through no fault of their own?"

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Can see this building up to a plea for the supporters to put their hand in their pockets. 

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to me other than a few hundred supporter and Mark Aston , Sheffield doesn't want a rugby league team . Its a shame as fans and Mark plus a few others have worked so hard with this club . 

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1 hour ago, newbe said:

Can see this building up to a plea for the supporters to put their hand in their pockets. 

  They did a couple of years ago - with a 2 weeks deadline.The demographics of the fanbase make it an almost impossible task. 

 

47 minutes ago, superten said:

to me other than a few hundred supporter and Mark Aston , Sheffield doesn't want a rugby league team . Its a shame as fans and Mark plus a few others have worked so hard with this club . 

   I don't think the general public throughout the city are aware that a rugby league club exists.

   One man working within the limitations of a 24 hrs day does make the task of expanding the sport very difficult.

There is no continuity and the last guy who worked his socks off - went to Wakefield,without replacement or explanation.

   Sheffield Eagles are the best kept secret in the best kept secret that is rugby league.

    The weapon of destruction,Caborn,certainly has the hide of a rhinoceros - he must have been a politician.If only rugby league fan Clare Balding hadn't shown him up.It makes weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes seem plausible.

    https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/sheffield-eagles-claim-spiralling-costs-at-olympic-legacy-park-are-strangling-the-club-and-its-future-existence-1-9255876

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2 hours ago, Angelic Cynic said:

  I don't think the general public throughout the city are aware that a rugby league club exists.

  Sheffield Eagles are the best kept secret in the best kept secret that is rugby league.

Most of my extended family live in Sheffield. A sporty bunch, they certainly know Sheffield Eagles exist. Trouble is, they've never felt any inclination to attend a game. Rugby league simply isn't a 'Sheffield sport'.

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3 hours ago, Hopping Mad said:

Most of my extended family live in Sheffield. A sporty bunch, they certainly know Sheffield Eagles exist. Trouble is, they've never felt any inclination to attend a game. Rugby league simply isn't a 'Sheffield sport'.

It wasn't a 'Newcastle sport' 15 years ago......

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1 hour ago, DoubleD said:

It wasn't a 'Newcastle sport' 15 years ago......

Do you imagine, after toiling away since 1984, the Eagles are ever going to convince Sheffield rugby league is worth watching? They now have the handicap of playing in a stadium that isn't a stadium and inhabiting the increasingly pointless environment of tier two's bottom half.

Edited by Hopping Mad

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26 minutes ago, Hopping Mad said:

Do you imagine, after toiling away since 1984, the Eagles are ever going to convince Sheffield rugby league is worth watching? They now have the handicap of playing in a stadium that isn't a stadium and inhabiting the increasingly pointless environment of tier two's bottom half.

    It went well in 1998 - then that turned in 1999.

     Showing the giant-killing around the schools would have cemented the sport in the schools where groundwork had already been done.

    Someone believes,and believed,in working against the odds,or the impossible,with enemies within and outwith the sport.

    https://hittingthewall.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/25-years-on-aston-still-believes-in-rugby-leagues-steel-city-dream/

    There are far more sports available to people in Sheffield than the round ball game where the 'biggest' clubs are merely mediocre in a lower division.Their attendances are not a particularly large percentage of the population and they do attract lots of away followers.

 

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1 hour ago, Hopping Mad said:

Do you imagine, after toiling away since 1984, the Eagles are ever going to convince Sheffield rugby league is worth watching? They now have the handicap of playing in a stadium that isn't a stadium and inhabiting the increasingly pointless environment of tier two's bottom half.

Yes, I think it’s worth persevering with. Or would you rather give up and pull the plug?

 It might take a bit of investment and having an actual stadium but it’s eminently possible for them to carve out a niche, like the Steelers have. 

They openly admit they haven’t engaged with the local community in their recent nomadic years 

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well dog racings doing well in sheffield for sure, 8 million been spent on revamp of owlerton for 2019. maybe they could a stuck around for the ride.

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10 hours ago, DoubleD said:

Yes, I think it’s worth persevering with. Or would you rather give up and pull the plug?

 It might take a bit of investment and having an actual stadium but it’s eminently possible for them to carve out a niche, like the Steelers have. 

They openly admit they haven’t engaged with the local community in their recent nomadic years 

Major difference is Sheffield Steelers being one of the biggest - if not the biggest - UK clubs in their sport. Their home matches often sell out. Since 1996, the RFL has ensured Super League is the be-all-and-end-all. People in Sheffield aren't daft. They know this. To have any hope of attracting decent crowds, Sheffield need to be in Super League, and in a stadium at least deserving of the description. That's going to take more than "a bit of" investment.

Times are hard for any team sport that isn't professional football. Speedway has been a Sheffield sport since 1929 yet Owlerton-based Sheffield Tigers are similarly stuck in tier two and struggling to attract four-figure crowds.

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10 hours ago, silverback said:

well dog racings doing well in sheffield for sure, 8 million been spent on revamp of owlerton for 2019. maybe they could a stuck around for the ride.

Is speedway still running at Owlerton

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38 minutes ago, henage said:

Is speedway still running at Owlerton

It is. A Thursday night track. Sheffield Tigers are in the SGB Championship (tier two).

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59 minutes ago, henage said:

Is speedway still running at Owlerton

  yes,also brisca f1 stox but limited to one or two meeting a year, never been same since far terrace closed about 20 years since as viewing is rubbish besides turn 3, bar gallery upstairs is fine but you dont get the sounds of 30 massive v 8s like you do outside,not sure if rl could a joined up in some way with this company who are spending over 200 mill in the  sheffield area over next 3 years.

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On 7/18/2018 at 1:29 PM, superten said:

to me other than a few hundred supporter and Mark Aston , Sheffield doesn't want a rugby league team . Its a shame as fans and Mark plus a few others have worked so hard with this club . 

I do get a little confused by the usual spin in the original press release. You would get the impression that they are playing in front of "record" crowds but it certainly didn't feel that way on Sunday when I was amongst the other 450 hardy souls. How they have survived so long is often a mystery but we all hope that they continue to do so. the sport can ill afford the loss of any club.

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8 hours ago, Hopping Mad said:

Major difference is Sheffield Steelers being one of the biggest - if not the biggest - UK clubs in their sport. Their home matches often sell out. Since 1996, the RFL has ensured Super League is the be-all-and-end-all. People in Sheffield aren't daft. They know this. To have any hope of attracting decent crowds, Sheffield need to be in Super League, and in a stadium at least deserving of the description. That's going to take more than "a bit of" investment.

Times are hard for any team sport that isn't professional football. Speedway has been a Sheffield sport since 1929 yet Owlerton-based Sheffield Tigers are similarly stuck in tier two and struggling to attract four-figure crowds.

It depends on what your level of ambition is and how you engage with your audience? Of course they need a stadium which is fit for purpose and someone who is willing to put investment in. However, Sheffield, much like York and Newcastle, have the potential ability to grow to levels a lot of smaller clubs can't. That's not to say they will but that was not the question you asked. The question was can I imagine it?

And my answer is yes I can imagine it. There could certainly be a day when they are in SL with crowds of 5-10k. I could imagine that more than I could ever imagine Toronto Wolfpack in our league system drawing those sort of crowds, but even that has happened and long may it continue

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I think Sheffield are just another example of how its impossible to build a real club without a proper home. In the mid 90s they got decent crowds for the time and at a time when crowds generally were much lower than now. This was also in an appalling venue to watch Rugby League. For example in the first year of Super League they averaged 4704 which certainly wasn't too shabby for the time and had a high crowd of 6708. As a comparison Warrington only had an average crowd of 5,051 in that year and look how they were transformed with a bit of money and a new stadium. I certainly think Rugby League in Sheffield can work but as always they need a decent ground and a bit of money behind them.

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On 7/18/2018 at 1:29 PM, superten said:

to me other than a few hundred supporter and Mark Aston , Sheffield doesn't want a rugby league team . Its a shame as fans and Mark plus a few others have worked so hard with this club . 

Didn't they get gecent crowds when they played at Bramall Lane? 

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Sheffield coach Mark Aston is confident the Eagles will win their battle to get the Olympic Legacy Park as their home on a permanent basis.

The Eagles recently are currently struggling to pay their Olympic Legacy Park home, but they making big strides off the field.

Attendances are the highest they have been since their final year Don Valley Stadium and commercial revenues are higher than anticipated at the club.

The club are in ongoing talks with Sheffield City Council but Aston says the club needs a permanent home in the Steel City.

He said: “There is a group of fans who have stuck with us for the last five years outside of the city since they knocked Don Valley down.

“Since we have got back into the city, we have been lied to and people are now saying things now that they didn’t say before. Some things have been said so we will go in the archives and pull a few shots at them.

“We will get through the situation with the council and the people who have made false promises. We will get the stadium and we will start building from the bottom again. We will be successful in our bid to get the stadium and then I will tell the people what I think of them.

“We need the stadium. We have always needed a facility and the pitch at the OLP is great. Once we have got the stands in place then we will have a stadium that we can call home and we can start building again.”

Aston insisted that the club are doing all that they can at the minute to become both successful on the field and off it.

He added: “We are not just going to pack in or turn our backs on the fans.

“We have got good people at the club. There is no point moaning or causing a stress about it, we will fight and get to where we want to get to and we will build it again.

“There might be some new faces next year who have been here before, the fans will love them and I like good people. If you have good people then you can do good things.

“We will come out of all this stronger and we will strive to get a consistent team together that we can get to the place where we want to be in one or two years.”

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