Sheffield’s planned move back to the city next year has been hit with further delays as the club has revealed it is awaiting a decision from the Olympic Legacy Park and Sheffield City Council.
The club and its prospective investor submitted their plan for a stadium on the Olympic Legacy Park site over a month ago, along with other competitors who are bidding for the site.
A decision on who will get the go-ahead to develop the site was due to be made on the 12th of July but this decision has now been pushed back to next month, August 7th.
Following a decision from the Olympic Legacy Park, their recommendations on the preferred bid will be passed to Sheffield City Council who will make a final decision. This will result in a final decision being made by the end of August at the earliest.
If Sheffield’s bid is successful, the timescales are now extremely small to bring the site up to RFL minimum standards for the 2018 season.
Should the club’s bid be unsuccessful, the Heads of Terms for the site state that Sheffield Eagles must be accommodated on the site and a stadium must be ready for 2019, meaning at the latest, it will be the Eagles home from 2019.
However, the delays and the other bids being considered could now sadly mean the club will not be returning to Sheffield in 2018.
In a statement, Sheffield said: “The club wishes to point out that its proposal for the site has rugby at its centre, which was the aim of the site, to be a multi-use stadium, primarily for rugby league and union. Sheffield Eagles are extremely concerned should its bid not be successful, this will not be the case.
“It will also likely mean that the club will be unable to benefit from secondary spend from food and drink sales which we need to help be sustainable.
“This is imperative to the club’s future and our proposal ensures this along with maximum usage of the stadium, for rugby and community purposes.
“Since the club’s home, Don Valley Stadium was taken away after it was demolished in 2013, the club has played at four different venues in four years, two of which have been out of the city of Sheffield.
“Attendances have dropped significantly, year on year from an average of around 1,200 in 2013 to just over 400 in 2017. This along with the extreme difficulty of retaining sponsors and acquiring new sponsors and partners have saw the club’s revenue streams dwindle.
“The club from a financial stand point, must be back in Sheffield in 2018 to try and rebuild our supporter and sponsorship bases and finally have a period of stability.
“This still leaves the club in a very precarious position for 2018 as with no playing venue confirmed, we cannot begin the process of selling season tickets, sponsorship, hospitality & advertising. The club will continue to work with all parties to try and ensure rugby league continues to have a positive presence in Sheffield.”