At the start of the month we ran an article regarding the potential sale of the former Salford City Stadium, now known as the AJ Bell Stadium, located in Barton.
Salford City Council maintain that any discussions on the sale of the stadium are still in the early stages and as yet neither the Council or Peel who make up the other half of CosCos (the joint owned 50-50 venture) have agreed any sale.
An approach has been made in the past by the owner of Sale Sharks which was promptly turned down, with Salford Deputy Mayor, John Merry deeming the offer as being “unacceptable”.
On the 1st of April, Salford Council issued the following which states that the Council will be seeking reassurance on commitments for Salford Red Devils before any such sale is agreed.
However, in a statement released earlier today by the Devils, Chief Exec, Paul King states that the current tenancy agreement between the club and CosCos is 'simply unsustainable' regardless of whom has ownership of the stadium.
Like most sports clubs in the UK, the Covid crisis has hit Salford hard and they are struggling financially with no confirmed end in sight.
Even if the club were to reopen tomorrow it would still take time to recover from the knock on effects of the pandemic as supporters will no doubt initially be fearful of attending large sporting events until they can be assured that it is safe.
Fortunately the outstanding vaccination roll out in Salford has led to a huge drop in infection rates with today just 8 confirmed positive tests being recorded, but even so it will still take time for local sports clubs to recover once they can reopen and Salford's Red Devils are not immune.
For a club that has already been struggling, any future rent increases would have a catastrophic impact on their finances and ability to continue to maintain a base in Salford.
If an agreement can not be found then there is the very real possibility that our local rugby club could find themselves homeless.
The Devils are hopeful that they can secure a new affordable deal which would allow them to continue to use the stadium as a base and warn that increases to their rent above what is financially viable for the club would be devastating for them and professional Rugby in Salford.
Paul King, Salford Red Devils Executive Chairman said:
“We appreciate the historic and ongoing support provided by Salford City Council in what we and our fantastic fans will clearly identify as a challenging period for the club off the pitch in the last few years.
“The club has recently been made aware of a proposal for the acquisition of the stadium. Although late in the day, and as a club without a benefactor, we are looking at making a bid ourselves to protect our Salford base.
“However, we must also look at extending our tenancy at the AJ Bell stadium, safeguarding our future at our ground in the City of Salford, regardless of ownership. We appreciate the council stating their ‘reassurance for commitments for Salford Red Devils’ upon any sale.
“Our current tenancy agreement is simply unsustainable for the club and we have been seeking a new deal on terms that we can afford. CosCos have supported the club with rental payment arrangements in recent seasons, we hope that we can strike a new agreement that allows both parties a mutually sustainable level.
“Any ownership changes to the stadium that increases our rent above what is financially viable for the club would be devastating.
“We and the council must work together now to keep Salford Red Devils in Salford. These sentiments have been strongly shared by the Mayor and members of Salford City Council and we are hopeful that this joint resolve will conclude with a positive outcome for Salford Red Devils remaining at the AJ Bell Stadium.
“The club will provide a further statement should any significant developments arise. As always, I am personally grateful, as is everyone at the club, for the fantastic support of our fans and fellow Salfordians.”
The club has now called upon the Council to work together with them to ensure that the club remains within Salford.