A leading official of the Salford Red Devils Supporters’ Trust has urged those living in the city to wake up to the “very real threat” of the Super League side losing their home.
Chairperson Pete Brady’s warning comes as the number of people signing a petition opposing the potential sale of the AJ Bell Stadium to rugby union club Sale Sharks rose to more than 6,400.
Trust members believe such a move would lead to Salford City Football Club, rather than Salford Red Devils, playing alongside the Sharks at the 12,000-capacity venue, which has hosted both rugby teams since 2012.
They fear the Red Devils could end up playing at Salford City’s current Peninsula Stadium, which they believe would make maintaining a top-flight operation impossible.
It’s even been suggested the Rugby League club have considered making a bid to buy Gigg Lane, the 12,000-capacity stadium where Bury Football Club played before being expelled from the English Football League in August 2019 and which was once used by Swinton Lions.
But Brady reckons playing at the 5,100-capacity Peninsula Stadium, previously known as Moor Lane, would be a more likely scenario should Sale gain control of the AJ Bell, which is currently owned by City of Salford Community Stadium (CosCos), a joint venture between Salford City Council and giants Peel Holdings.
He said: “That way the council could argue the club had been kept in Salford, but it’s not certain the ground would satisfy Super League criteria without work being done, and there are a host of other problems.
“There are no facilities for hospitality, which is a crucial area for income generation, or training, and local residents were unhappy when a couple of thousand were turning out for football matches.”
While the AJ Bell Stadium was originally built for the Red Devils, the Sharks signed a 25-year lease on the venue shortly after its £26 million construction.
Brady added: “Sale do not want Salford Red Devils in what I prefer to call the City of Salford Community Stadium, since it was built for the people of the city.
“We’d end up having to pay an enormous amount of rent. That would mean we wouldn’t be able to afford to invest in players, then we’d get relegated and end up a part-time club.
“That would in turn threaten the Salford Red Devils Foundation, who do so much good work for the community. In contrast, Sale Sharks offer nothing to our city.
“Should the stadium be sold without securing a legally-watertight, long-term affordable tenancy for Salford Red Devils, it would be a betrayal of the fans and the wider Salford community.”
To sign the petition, go to www.change.org (The AJ Bell Stadium must stay for the community of Salford).
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