Rugby League

18 Nov 2023

Sheffield FC and Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Club announce joint venture and unveil new stadium plans

Sheffield FC and Sheffield Eagles Rugby League Club announce joint venture and unveil new stadium plans

Plans for a new 5,000-seater stadium which would be shared by Sheffield Eagles and Sheffield FC have been announced today. 

The Eagles, the 1998 Challenge Cup winners who finished fourth in the Betfred Championship last season and will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year, could be playing in the new stadium ahead of the 2026 season – with the aim for it to be open for the 2025-26 football season. 

Mark Aston, the Eagles Director of Rugby who has been a mainstay of the club almost since their existence and won the Lance Todd Trophy as Man of the Match in their 1998 Wembley triumph, said:

“Sheffield Eagles are very excited to be part of this joint venture with Sheffield FC and to be at the heart of this world-class development, which at the heart will have a stadium that meets the Super League criteria to assist us in our aim to return to the top flight. 

“Sheffield Eagles have grown immensely in the last three years thanks to the work of the Eagles Foundation and the planned facilities will also be a home for our Women’s, Wheelchair, Learning Disability and Physical Disability teams. It will also allow us to further develop homegrown talent and provide a base for our already large community programme.   

“The development will bring very valuable sporting facilities to the Sheffield sports scene and open up several opportunities for sports outside of football and Rugby League to be involved and provide enjoyment as both spectators and participants. 

“With Sheffield FC being the world’s first football club and Sheffield Eagles about to celebrate its 40th anniversary, both clubs have an enormous amount of heritage to bring together and I am pleased that the plans will see that history captured under one roof. 

“With league positions making up only 20 per cent of the RFL’s Club Grading Scoring matrix, the development of facilities and the ability to improve our commercial footing and build a solid base for the community aspects of our operation are an absolute priority for us. This development gives us an opportunity to drastically improve our grading and we hope that the entire city can get behind and share in the initiative!” 

Sheffield FC are recognised as the world’s first football club having been founded in 1857.  

The new stadium, which will be based at the former Sheffield Transport Sports Club site at Meadowhead, will encompass professional football and Rugby League facilities as well as a cricket pavilion, a football museum and an indoor community sports hall. 

It is planned that the site will become an international visitor attraction for football and Rugby League fans alike and provide an insight into the history and heritage of both clubs. An artist’s impression video and images have been released to showcase the club’s plans.

The proposed 5,000-capacity stadium will meet the highest standards for both Football and Rugby League, adhering to both Football League and Super League criteria.

The comprehensive stadium development scheme will offer access to high-quality sporting events, educational opportunities, recreational facilities, social amenities, business prospects, and an array of community programmes. 

Sheffield FC has submitted a planning pre-application to Sheffield City Council with a full application set to be submitted in January. 

Sheffield FC Chairman Richard Tims said: “Welcome to a new era of Sheffield FC, the world’s first football club.

“We are pleased to announce our vision for the future: a new stadium back in the Steel City, a joint venture with Sheffield Eagles and a world-class facility, which will benefit the whole community. 

“Following years of discussions, we are finally starting to see our plans really gathering pace and have a fantastic project team who are totally committed to making our supporters’ dreams turn into reality. 

“This will be somewhere to which the football’s three billion fans can make a pilgrimage and pay homage to the city which gave the world the beautiful game as well as a venue for the local community to utilise and enjoy a variety of sports. 

“It doesn’t matter whether you support Sheffield United or Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield FC or Sheffield Eagles this is about being proud of the region’s sporting heritage and making it a hub for sporting excellence and community engagement in Sheffield and the South Yorkshire region. 

“Our target is for the project to be ready for the start of the 2025-26 season. We need everyone to get behind this and once and for all put Sheffield sport well and truly on the map.” 

The Eagles returned to the city of Sheffield relatively recently after a number of nomadic seasons, and have settled at Olympic Legacy Park in the last few seasons, having returned to Wembley to win the inaugural AB Sundecks 1895 Cup in 2019.

They have already made a number of exciting signings for the 2024 season, including Mitch Clark, Eddie Battye, Ryan Miller, Matty Marsh, James Glover and Alex Foster, as well as agreeing new deals with key players from their 2023 squad including the ageless half-back Anthony Thackeray.