The Salford City Stadium saga really is like something out of George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Built with £26million of public money (£22million loan from Salford Council and £4million grant from NWDA), on Salford Council land worth £6.7million, the original stadium project was supposed to benefit the community.
The facilities were supposed to be open to the community, although as the stadium was unveiled, its manager told East Salford Community Committee that there would be no free use for young people (unlike other Council backed projects) as the stadium "has to wash its face financially".
Next, the name `Community' was dropped from its title – Salford Community Stadium. And it became the Salford City Stadium, attempting to become a profit churning enterprise rather than something of benefit for the community.
With Peel Holdings at the helm, original tenants, Salford Reds, was being charged, according to League Express, a massive £750,000 rent a year, which was only halved when Sale Sharks became the second tenants. Now, official stadium sources have revealed that Sale Sharks has actually bought the naming rights to the stadium.
"Sale own the naming rights to the stadium to sell on to any buyers" the Stadium's official facebook site posted last night "We are not aware at this moment in time if Sale Sharks have sold them on to anyone. Once they have someone lined up the board will need to approve it."
The `board' consists of representatives from Salford City Council and Peel Holdings. The thought that Salford Council would sanction a name that doesn't include the word `Salford' has angered fans on the site…
"This is THE CITY OF SALFORD'S stadium paid in some small part by our council and my council tax! What would the city gain out of losing Salford in the title? It's positive exposure our city needs. Not just another corporate name that could be in outermongolia ! SALFORD!" posted Marie Scholes.
"Seems the council have shafted the city's very OWN club for a club from OUTSIDE Salford!!" added Lee Mullen.
When the Stadium licence was signed in 2010 for Salford Reds to play at Barton, partners Salford city Council and Peel Holdings played up the community benefits and the fact that it would put Salford on the map…
"The stadium will be another landmark development for Salford that will benefit the economy and the community who will have access to use its quality facilities" said the then Leader of Salford Council, John Merry "After lots of careful planning we're seeing excellent progress being made towards what will be a fantastic asset for the city and the key to the success of the Reds' Super League season."
Mike Butterworth, property director at Peel said how pleased he was "to see Salford City Reds play at the stadium which will provide a wonderful new community facility for the people of Salford."
And Salford City Reds' John Wilkinson believed it would be a springboard for success…
"Over the last 10 years we have witnessed neighbouring clubs in our conurbation unveil new stadiums and observed the success seen at Warrington, Wigan and Bolton, to name a few" he said "Supporters and families have come to expect good facilities, the City of Salford Stadium will be so welcome and respected to make Salford City Reds a major force in Super League and a perfect stage for world rugby."
Sale Sharks owner, Brian Kennedy, originally `acquired' the rugby club and Stockport County Football Club. While Sale Sharks now play in the rugby premier league, Stockport County, which he doesn't own any more, are currently struggling out of the Football League in the Conference.
The Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt, wrote a passionate attack on Kennedy's dealings with Stockport County in 2009, at the height of the club's problems, under the title `Eaten By Sharks'…
"He's the owner of Sale Sharks, the man who installed a rugby club at Stockport's Edgeley Park ground six years ago so that County are now second class citizens in their own home." (see here for full story)
Meanwhile, Kennedy's other business dealings fit well with those of Peel Holdings, as he has extensive interests in energy, industrial warehousing and property companies.
For further details on the stadium naming rights search facebook - Official Salford City Stadium
See previous Salford Star article on `Salford Reds In Hock Until 2017 - click here