Emotional Ian Blease hoping for long-term benefits from Salford fairytale

Salford CEO Ian Blease is hopeful that the spike in interest in the Red Devils ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final can make the club ‘fully sustainable’ in the years ahead.

Blease believes this could be the best Salford side in history after Ian Watson’s men defied the odds to reach the Grand Final for the first time in Super League history.

And Blease – who admits he spent recent years ‘crying in his office’ signing off transfer deals to help keep the club financially secure – is hopeful there can be a long-term impact from Saturday’s showdown with St Helens.

He said: “If we can convert 1,000 extra supporters into season ticket holders, the makes us fully sustainable. We’re that close.

“Marwan (Koukash) wrote his debt off and as a club we’re pretty good now. If you pulled out the balance sheets elsewhere at other clubs you’d see huge holes, we’re very close to being sustainable as a club. Hopefully Saturday can change us forever.”

Salford have received an allocation of 8,000 tickets for Old Trafford with a further 5,000 available if they sell out. But Blease revealed: “Super League actually told us they shifted 4,500 tickets immediately after Friday’s game. I would suspect at least three-quarters of that number are our fans.

“All the boxes in our end have already gone, all the Manchester businesses are all over us and it’s a very nice problem for us to have.” Blease also, perhaps unsurprisingly, admitted the Red Devils are set for a major cash injection this weekend.

“We didn’t budget for this, that’s for sure,” he laughed.

“I guess other clubs may factor success into their budgets – we don’t. We put down the first round of the Challenge Cup and no more, assuming we get knocked out. The difficultly is that you can’t commercialise this too much like the cup final, shifting merchandise. But it’s a significant six-figure money boost the club gets, without a shadow of a doubt.”

Blease concluded: “It’s immense, isn’t it. When I started three years ago in those lonely nights signing off transfer sheets, selling players and crying in my office, it’s just a world away from those days, it’s fantastic.

“It’s the greatest occasion in this club’s history. We’ll make sure we have a good go at them.”