RFL refuses to intervene in Salford dispute

This story first appeared in Monday’s League Express.

The Rugby Football League has backed off from trying to influence any decision to rebrand Salford Red Devils that owner Marwan Koukash may be planning to make.

Dr Koukash has expressed his frustration at the poor crowds his club are attracting, and he has nagered some supporters by suggesting that he would be prepared to consider a name change to Manchester Red Devils if he thought that by doing so, attendances would increase.

Prior to Friday night’s televised clash against Hull FC, Koukash spoke to Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney to express his frustration, with a declared attendance of just 2,678 spectators for the visit of Hull.

“This is the best Salford side that we have had for the last 30 years or so, but the fans are still not coming here so we have to ask why,” he said.

“Is it the stadium or the location of the stadium? But then I looked at the actual figures of the support we have when we played in The Willows and it is not much different to here, so that could tell you a story.

“The story is the level of support, not matter what you do, no matter how successful, you’re not going to get more than 2,500-3,000 Salford fans.”

But he denied any firm plans were in place for a rebranding and has asked the club’s fans to stick with the team.

“Right now I’d like to tell all of our fans out there, trust me,” he added.

“We have not made a decision to rebrand. For now I just want to concentrate on getting on with playing good rugby, get behind the team and let’s revisit the rebrand at a later date.”

The Salford Forever Action Group has appealed to the RFL to prevent a rebrand, but chief executive Nigel Wood has responded by saying that he does not have the power to intervene.

“All RFL member clubs are standalone, separately owned businesses, and it is for them to work out what strategy is in their own best interests,” said Wood, in a letter to the group.

“The RFL’s role primary is to uphold those shared roles, but not to run the clubs themselves. We do not shadow direct.

“I am not aware (yet) of any formal request for the RFL to consider a name change, nor a location change, but if one were submitted we would be obliged to consider it appropriately and not to act unreasonably.”