Salford Red Devils confident on stadium deal in new year

AJ Bell Stadium

Salford Red Devils Rugby League club appear to have succeeded in a bid to escalate the urgency with which Salford City Council officials are dealing with the issue of the community ownership of the AJ Bell stadium.

In November the club issued a stark statement attacking council officers who it said were “dithering” and placed the future of Super League in the city in peril as the sport’s governing body require assurances that clubs have a permanent stadium. 

On Friday the club said there was now “confidence” an agreement on the stadium could be reached in the first quarter of 2024.

“Discussions remain ongoing surrounding a short-term agreement between the Club and Salford City Council in the mean time which we expect to have further clarity come the end of this month.”

Meetings have been held since the club’s incendiary ultimatum which elicited a supportive statement in response from Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett who insisted he backed a deal for the council to acquire the stadium from property developer and landowner Peel, and thus provide a sound commercial deal for Salford Red Devils and Rugby Union table toppers Sale Sharks to remain at the stadium.

Paul Dennett

Dennett said: “I was greatly concerned by the contents of Salford Red Devils recent public statement to fans, and I am sure this was echoed in the Salford Reds fan base and wider rugby league communities.

“For a 150-year-old institution, and pillar of the sport, to be facing such a precarious situation is very worrying.”

He described the work involved in acquiring the stadium as “painstaking”, and a “highly complex and commercially sensitive environment” and passed part of the blame on Conservative party councillors opposing the deal.

Salford’s current tenancy arrangement expired on 1st December, but new gradings for Super League clubs, proposed by sports consultants IMG, require a minimum 5-year tenancy.

Without this Salford could be denied Super League status, thus reducing their central distributions from £1.31m to circa £50k per annum and effectively liquidating the Club, they warned.

On top of that the Red Devils management are also unhappy with the current rental deal with current stadium company StadCo which retains 100% of food and drink sales on Salford Red Devils match days, and keeps an additional minimum 8% of ticketing revenue.

Separately, Salford Red Devils have secured a shirt sponsorship deal with Parello, a property investment business.