Gallagher Premiership club Sale Sharks have revealed ambitious plans to eventually return to their spiritual hometown in the Greater Manchester area. The English top-flight outfit left Heywood Road in 2003, moving their first-team matches to Stockport before eventually switching to the AJ Bell stadium in Eccles in 2012.
However, it has now emerged the Premiership club’s owners are looking to return the club to the Sale area as part of a newly proposed multi-purpose sports and activity hub at Crossford Bridge Playing Fields.
The site is adjacent to the M60 and less than two miles away from their old Heywood ground, a stadium that continues to be used by Sale FC, the amateur side that plays at National 1 level.
According to the Messenger newspaper, a significant consultation exercise headed by Crossford Futures – with Sale Sharks as an active partner – is already underway to establish proposals to best benefit local community clubs, residents and businesses in Sale and the surrounding area.
Sharks boss Steve Diamond told the local newspaper about the Premiership club’s plan: “Sale Sharks has always had a vision to return to our hometown, bringing the club closer to its original fanbase and the communities in Sale.
RETURNING HOME | We can finally share our exciting vision for a historic return to our hometown of Sale, in a new state-of-the-art stadium.
— Sale Sharks? (@SaleSharksRugby) June 11, 2020
“As part of the plans for Crossford Bridge, we not only have a chance to establish a long-term home for the club, but there’s also a real opportunity for our men’s and women’s teams to inspire the next generation of sporting talent. Everyone at Sale Sharks is extremely excited about what this could mean for the club’s future. We will be bringing our fans along this journey with us and inviting them to tell us what they would like to see from our potential new home.”
Graham Young, director at Crossford Futures, added: “Our first consideration in this process is the clubs that currently play and train at Crossford Bridge and the local residents. We want to work closely with these groups to understand their needs and future aspirations, enabling us to shape proposals that will benefit everyone involved.”
Sharks, who enjoyed a resurgence in 2019/20 in terms of results and attendances at the AJ Bell, are busy this summer moving their training base into the old Manchester City facility at Carrington.
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