Salford do not have to sell to survive, insists MD Ian Laithwaite following O’Brien exit

Salford’s new managing director Ian Laithwaite has insisted that the Red Devils do not have to sell players to survive – adding that Gareth O’Brien’s departure to Toronto was solely because the player wanted to leave.

Laithwaite, who joined Salford’s new-look management structure at the beginning of this year, was speaking at the Red Devils’ launch of their new business club, Club 13.

Inevitably, the exit of O’Brien to the ambitious Championship side was high on the agenda – but Laithwaite has hit back at suggestions the club are selling their prized assets in order to make ends meet.

He said: “We haven’t had to do that – Gaz O’Brien wanted to leave.

“We were left with a choice having turned down a number of offers for a number of players because we don’t want to sell. It’s going to be tight and I’m doing a bit of juggling, but every club is doing that.

“We didn’t have to sell him, he wanted to go and talk to Toronto and they’ve offered him more money, so good luck to him. I’m sure we’ve all moved jobs for more money at some point in our lives and he’s no different.”

Furthermore, Laithwaite insists the departure of O’Brien will be offset by the potential of up to three new arrivals in the next few weeks as Salford aim to strengthen a squad which is undoubtedly lean.

“We were already lean before Gaz left so we’re doing some work on bringing in two bodies – preferably three – now,” said Laithwaite. “Ian Blease and Ian Watson are doing some work on that and I’m sure we’ll be in a position to announce something on that in the next few weeks.”

Laithwaite also insists there is no discontent within the Salford squad amidst rumours of financial struggle at the Super League side and O’Brien’s subsequent departure to Toronto.

“I’ve addressed all the players,” he said. “We’ve been approached from a couple of clubs who enquired about a few players and we’ve knocked everything back.

“The squad are strong and while there was a little concern when rumours came out about Gaz leaving, I’ve explained to them that he wanted to leave and we didn’t have to sell.

“Financially it’s tight but we’ll be fine.”

Laithwaite did concede, however, that with the ‘safety net’ former owner Marwan Koukash provided now gone, the club are having to explore new avenues to strengthen their income streams.

He, however, insists they are confident of a bright long-term future so long as they survive in Super League into 2019.

“We’ve gone from a club supported by Marwan Koukash to a club that’s now not – and all of a sudden we’ve got to look at things differently,” he said.

“Marwan was the safety net and we now don’t have it. He’s still a sponsor of the club and he still supports the club and we get on with him.

“He’s offered his assistance, too, but we’ve gone to a community club that has to rely on that community to step forward and support that club.

“We’ve a short-term goal relating to this season, then hopefully we can plan a bit further once we get through the season.

“We’ve got a strong squad and a great coach and I think there’s every chance we’ll sneak into those Super 8s and be absolutely fine.”