Any stadium swap between Salford Red Devils and the city’s League Two football team would have to be on terms which gave the Rugby League club the best-possible chance of a sustainable future
That’s the view of a leading official of the Red Devils Supporters’ Trust, who are becoming increasingly resigned to the Super League side leaving their current AJ Bell Stadium home.
Top-flight rugby union club Sale Sharks, with whom Salford currently share the stadium, are believed to want to join forces with Salford City FC to buy the stadium, which is currently co-owned by Salford City Council and property company Peel Holdings.
Red Devils executive chairman Paul King has confirmed suggestions that the club has never been able to fulfil the rental agreement on the AJ Bell, which has hosted both rugby clubs since 2012, after it was built at a cost of £26 million.
They currently pay around a third of the £450,000 annual cost of its use for matches, training and office space, with the shortfall underpinned by the local authority.
But the agreement expires in 2023, and going forward, would have to be renegotiated, with the Red Devils held to the agreed figure.
King has met Salford City FC owner Gary Neville, the former Manchester United player, to discuss moving to the football club’s current Moor Lane ground, known as the Peninsula Stadium, which is eight miles away and a with a capacity of 5,100, is less than half the size of the AJ Bell.
Red Devils Supporters’ Trust chair Pete Brady says there are problems with playing at Moor Lane, particularly in Super League, but that they aren’t insurmountable.
“There are clearly major difficulties over remaining at the AJ Bell, most obviously that the club would struggle to afford it, and moving to Moor Lane is perhaps the best alternative option, because it is within Salford,” he said.
“There would be issues to be sorted out, such as the standard of floodlighting, parking, transport to and from the ground, hospitality facilities, office space and a suitable place to train, and the Salford Red Devils Foundation, which does so much vital work in the community, would also need a base.
“But there would be the potential to drive income streams from things like naming rights, perimeter advertising and food and beverage.
“The key would be ensuring the terms and conditions were right for the club to move forward as a sustainable set-up, and not have a repeat of the arrangement at the AJ Bell Stadium, which was flawed from the outset.
“In all likelihood, this is the one opportunity to get to a situation where the club is financially stable, so things have to be right.”
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