Sale Sharks will do “everything they can” to find new home for Salford

Sale Sharks says their plans to purchase and takeover the AJ Bell Stadium will only happen once they have helped to secure the future of Super League side Salford.

The Red Devils have a rental agreement at the stadium until 2023, and have admitted remaining as a tenant is not financially viable.

Club chiefs Paul King and Ian Blease have been working tirelessly to negotiate a solution for Salford, who held a fans forum back in July to update fans on the situation.

Football club Salford City, owned by Gary Neville and the class of 92, are set to partner with the Sharks and take over the stadium, with this leading to speculation that the Red Devils could swap grounds with the League Two football side, who play at Moor Lane.

In a Q&A on the club’s official website, Sharks CEO Sid Sutton said: “Owning our own stadium is so, so important, but we have said that we won’t put in an official bid until Salford Red Devils are being looked after or until they have been consulted and have found a place to go.

“That question has been a huge factor in the negotiations so far for me. We’re a community club and we have a good relationship with Salford Red Devils. We want to play an active role in securing their future and we’re doing everything we can to do that.

“During the due diligence process, it became apparent that financially remaining at the AJ Bell Stadium wasn’t an option for Salford Red Devils.

“In addition, they openly said that they couldn’t afford to either buy the AJ Bell Stadium or stay there as a tenant so we actively sought a second party to buy the stadium with us.

“Salford City FC are a willing party with huge ambition and a need for a new home, they have also the financial ability to be a joint owner of the AJ Bell. Both Salford City and ourselves are completely aligned that Salford Reds need to be catered for before any deal is done on the stadium.

“Several joint fans forums have been held to ensure all parties are being open, honest and crystal clear with their own fan base.

“Commercially it makes sense to us, but the most important thing to say is that the council and Salford Red Devils are still looking at other possibilities and we won’t be pushing forward until this is resolved.”

Now known as the Peninsula Stadium, Moor Lane has seen vast improvements during Salford City’s rise up the football pyramid, and its capacity of 5,108 is greater than the average crowds Salford have managed at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Salford’s highest league average attendance during that time was 4,738 back in 2014, which also saw their highest crowd at the ground – 7,102.

The £26m AJ Bell Stadium opened in 2012, close to the Manchester Ship Canal, the M60 motorway and the Trafford Centre.

Sale, who previously played at Edgeley Park home to Stockport County FC, have been looking to develop their own home and had plans submitted to return to Sale – only for Trafford Council to withdraw their support for the new sports village, which led to the Sharks renewing interest in their current home.

6 Comments

  1. Top flight club, crowds under 5000, how the Hell can the sport be competitive, they’re no alone either. Tiny crowds at other Super League clubs do nothing for the sport. But people are being priced out of the game, the lack of ambition within the RFL, the ever widening gulf between the RFL and the NRL is ridiculous. I wish I could think of a solution, but I can’t.

    • Don’t believe a word that comes from a union club. The main aim of Rugby Union has been to destroy Rugby League since it was founded. The Salford stadium was built, with the help of the local council, to play Rugby League there. Are the council turning their backs on a local team and now supporting a team from outsde the city.

  2. I love both codes & have played both, but it is becoming obvious that the financial might of the Union code, particularly with the financial bonanza that is their World C up, means that as time goes on the Union code will be flexing its muscles & doing more & more projects like the AJ Bell stadium purchase.We might all agree the League is a vastly better product but money speaks all languages & I think League may have blown its chances to become a meaningful sport & will slowly but surely shrink in every respect both nationally & internationally. Not trying to be negative, just realistic

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