Salford set for final season at AJ Bell Stadium?

Salford could be out of the AJ Bell Stadium at the end of next season – even though their current agreement to play there runs until 2023.

The Red Devils are in discussions with Salford City Football Club, based eight miles away, over a possible stadium swap.

The AJ Bell, which has hosted both the Red Devils and rugby union club Sale Sharks since it opened in 2012, is currently owned by CosCoS (The City of Salford Stadium Community Stadium Limited), a partnership between Salford City Council and property company Peel Holdings.

But the Sharks want to join forces with ambitious Salford City – who play at the Peninsula Stadium, previously known as Moor Lane, and whose owners include several former Manchester United players – to buy the 12,000-capacity venue from CosCos, who are more than £32 million in debt.

The Red Devils reckon that would lead to a steep hike in rental costs, which are currently £150,000 a year, and are therefore exploring other options, with a move to Moor Lane, where Swinton Lions played from 2002-04, being seriously considered.

That would come at a cost, however, with alterations needed to meet Super League standards, which include a minimum 5,000 capacity.

While the stadium, which is a mixture of stands and terracing, holds 5,100 for football, advertising hoardings have to be higher for Rugby League, which would negate the front rows of seats and therefore necessitate work to make the stands bigger.

Floodlight improvements would also be required, with the total bill potentially topping £2 million.

The two clubs would also have to agree on the timing of the swap, which is made difficult by the fact their closed-seasons do not coincide.

“We’d have to do something about the stadium,” said Red Devils director Paul King.

“I’m putting together a list, and we also have to factor in running costs.

“We’re entitled to be at the AJ Bell until 2023 but I strongly suspect Sale and Salford City would like us out of there at the end of our 2022 season.

“Being there in 2023 is unlikely. We’ve got to find somewhere to live.”

The situation will be among several items to be discussed at a fans’ forum in the City Suite at the AJ Bell on Tuesday (November 9). Doors open at 6.30pm, start 7pm).

Meanwhile the Red Devils have lodged their accounts for the year ended 31 January 2021 and they have reported a significant improvement in their financial performance.

Although Salford City Reds (2013) Limited lodges abbreviated accounts that don’t give a full picture of its finances, its cash holdings increased from 98,868 on 31 January 2020 to £305,543 a year later, while its profit and loss account saw an improvement of £1,173,903 for the year.

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