Attempted revival of Don Valley club hits the buffers

Plans for a new Sheffield club to fill the vacuum left by the Eagles' merger with Huddersfield have been delayed by the stumbling block known as the Association of Premiership Clubs.

Plans for a new Sheffield club to fill the vacuum left by the Eagles' merger with Huddersfield have been delayed by the stumbling block known as the Association of Premiership Clubs.

The former Sheffield captain, Mark Aston, and others disaffected by the merger had wanted to establish a new team playing at the Don Valley Stadium to take the place of Bramley, who were willing to drop out and become an under-21 feeder side for Leeds Rhinos. However, the APC, which has already blocked proposals for Huddersfield and Hull to enter their competition, was unable to make a decision at a threeand-a-half hour meeting in Dewsbury yesterday.

So, with only a month to go before the start of the Northern Ford Premiership season, the competition does not know how many clubs will be involved. "They wanted time to take stock and thought that it was a matter that ought to go before the full Rugby League Council on 7 December," said the Rugby League's spokesman, John Huxley.

One sticking point is Bramley's remaining cash allocation from Sky, which the club wants to use for development of youth rugby in their east Leeds heartland. Another is the APC's resistance to being used as a dumping ground for Super League's casualties. "There is a great deal of sympathy for the new Sheffield club, but there are issues beyond them that are troubling the APC," Huxley said.

There will be intensive negotiations over the weekend, with the fixtures for the competition, which begins on Boxing Day, due to be announced on Monday.

Dewsbury, beaten in the Premiership Grand Final this year, are hoping to sign the American loose forward, Jeff Preston, who played in the World Cup qualification tournament defeat by Lebanon last Sunday.

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