Newcastle Eagles chief Paul Blake has moved to reassure supporters the club is in safe hands after talk of Northern Rock’s takeover gathered pace. Some fans have become increasingly concerned the possible Virgin deal could be catastrophic for the club, who only signed a contract with Northern Rock a few months ago – a notion that Blake has been quick to dismiss.

He said: ‘We have received a quite incredible amount of support from Northern Rock and the people who have been working with us have been terrific. It is a fantastic relationship and one I do see continuing for the foreseeable future.’

‘Any prospective change of ownership at Northern Rock will probably not happen for some time and, besides, we have signed a three-year contract and there is no reason to think this will not be honoured. They have delivered in every single area so far and really helped us in so many different ways. They are great to work with and we are proud to have this relationship in place.’

He continued: ‘The club is on a sound footing and there is no need for any of the fans to panic. “There is a lot to be done in the next few months and we are trying to focus all of our efforts on trying to reach another final and bring more success to the club both on and off the court.’

The first opportunity the players will get to deliver an incredible eighth piece of silverware in four seasons will be by way of the BBL Cup final in Birmingham on January 12. Before they can dream about winning another showpiece final, they must firstly negotiate a tricky semi-final tie with old foes Scottish Rocks after the arch-rivals were paired together in the semi-final draw.

The semi-final is scheduled to take place at the K2 in Crawley on Saturday, December 15 and the mouth-watering clash adds extra spice to Sunday’s league fixture at Braehead. The Eagles are on a 10-game winning streak and the Rocks will be desperate to break that run, especially after they suffered a double-overtime loss at home earlier in the season to Flournoy’s men.

The winners of next month’s tie will face either Milton Keynes Lions or reigning Cup holders Guildford Heat in the final.