Sheffield Eagles: Uncertainty rules again as chief executive John Whaling quits

John Whaling
John Whaling

Sheffield Eagles chief executive John Whaling has resigned with immediate effect after what he described as a ‘difference of opinion’ at a recent board meeting.

His departure, which he announced on social media, will come as a huge blow to the club as Whaling has been the leading figure in the Eagles’ recent crusade to find a club-saving takeover.

In a tweet sent on Thursday, Whaling said: “I have resigned from my position as CEO @sheffieldeagles after a difference of opinion at our board meeting on Tuesday. I hope they survive.”

Whaling wouldn’t comment any further when asked by The Star.

Whilst Whaling stated his departure was down to a difference of opinion, his situation will not have been helped with former club skipper Steve Thorpe directly criticising him in an article by stating: “The Sheffield CEO we haven’t seen him once. There hasn’t been too much support for the players, the only support is Tubby (Mark Aston) but there’s only so much he can do for us. You’ve got him hearing from the RFL what if this happens, what if that happens. No one’s said if this goes bust that we’ll look after you, there’s been no support there. If Tubby wasn’t in our corner we wouldn’t have been playing about two months ago, we wouldn’t have had a team.”

The question now remains, who will drive the Eagles forward to complete the necessary takeover?

Previous chairman Ian Swire has now left and was not present at the board meeting, whilst director of rugby Mark Aston has said that he needs a period of reflection regarding his involvement with the club going forward.

The Eagles were thought to be pushing closer to a deal with an unnamed investor, but this latest setback could again derail the club’s survival. Money raised from supporters and their run to the Championship Shield final has given them a stay of execution, but the club recently avoided a winding up petition after they settled an unpaid tax bill of around £17,600.

Whaling previously said of Tuesday’s board meeting that several matters would be discussed which included discussing the finer points of the prospective takeover, and a venue for next season.

The club have confirmed they are working on a shortlist of three venues after admitting they won’t be moving into the Olympic Legacy Park for the start of the 2017 campaign.