REPORT: Sale Sharks in bid to take over AJ Bell Stadium
Sale Sharks, having failed to build a new stadium of their own, have reportedly made an offer to buy the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford where they currently play.
According to the Manchester Evening News the move has triggered interest from Salford Red Devils rugby league team who are also based at the stadium near the Trafford centre next to the M50. To further complicate the picture there is speculation that Salford City FC are interested in playing at the 12,000 capacity stadium.
A council source told the newspaper: “This time it is a serious bid by Sale Sharks. But at the moment it is a verbal offer and things are at a very early stage.”
The ground is currently jointly owned by Salford council and property and land giant Peel. Peter Openshaw, interim strategic director of the place directorate at Salford council said: “We are aware of rumours, but no decision has been taken over whether to sell the AJ Bell stadium or on any terms of sale.
“We can confirm that the stadium company (CosCos) has been approached in respect of the potential sale of the stadium. In addition, there are ongoing proactive conversations between the council and the management of the Salford Red Devils on the stadium and safeguarding the future of the club.
“The council has been integral in supporting Salford Red Devils and rugby league in the city for many years and we continue to do this in any way that we can. Previous actions – including payment holidays on rent and loan support – have stabilised the club and provided time for their board to make longer term plans for its future.
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“Recognising the approach that has been made to CosCos on the sale of the stadium, the Red Devils are also preparing a proposal for the purchase of the stadium for consideration. There are no timescales on any of these discussions and all offers will be discussed on their own merits – with no guarantee that the stadium company CosCos will agree a sale at the end of them.
“The stadium is owned via a 50-50 management partnership so the council is not the sole party in any decision. Should a future decision be taken on the sale of the stadium, the council will be seeking reassurance for commitments for Salford Red Devils.”
Sale Sharks had planned to develop a ground near their previous home in Sale but this was torpedoed when Trafford Council withdrew support for a new £100m stadium as part of a sports village.
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