Newcastle Eagles have more than Leicester Riders in their way ahead of Sunday’s BBL Playoff Final.

Try thousands of tonnes of soil.

That’s what stands between the double-chasing outfit and finally breaking ground on their new 2,800-seater arena that has been several years in the planning on the banks of the Tyne.

The battle to get the £6 million project under way has effectively gone into overtime, almost three years after it was given planning permission by the city’s council.

It would give the club a focal point, not only for their team but for the myriad community schemes and schools programmes they oversee in the north-east of England.

But, chairman Paul Blake revealed, they will now have to make the earth move to get the construction under way.

“Basically, we have to remove the soil that’s currently on the land,” he said. “We originally thought the site was ready but because of restrictions, we have got to find a new home for the soil.

“It’s incredibly complicated. There’s been testing needed and it’s now going to have go some distance from the site. And we have to sort it carefully because there’s a risk of the costs spiralling if we don’t.

“But we think we’ve got a solution. We should know in the next 7-10 days. And if that happens, we will start building in the summer.”

With the financing in place, it is anticipated the arena would take 12 months to build to a finish which means Eagles will remain at Sports Central next season.

“That’s only fair to them,” Blake added. “They’ve been very supportive of us.”

Eagles have hit form again at the perfect time to give treble-hunting Leicester a run for their money at The 02 in what could be a classic season finale.

But there will be the annual question of whether it will be soon-to-be 44-year-old Newcastle coach Fab Flournoy’s final game as a player, no decision, says Blake, has yet been taken.

“It will be his decision,” he added. “I think he’s earned it.”

(Photo: BBL)

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