Star date: 7th February 2013


Questions concerning outstanding loans to Salford City Reds have been met with an amazing outburst about the `negative' Salford Star from Salford Council's so-called `Public Relations' department.

A Salford Council finance decision notice showed that public money loans to the rugby club of over £1.5million were not to be transferred to the new company running the Reds, set up by Marwan Koukash. The Salford Star asked for clarification – which was all too much for the Council's press office…

Full details and emails here…

The herd of elephants in the room during all the recent hype about the Marwan Koukash rescue of Salford City Reds were the loans of over £1.5million given to the old regime, Salford Football Club Company (1914) Ltd, by Salford City Council.

At last week's press conference enthronement, Koukash batted away all questions on the financial details of takeover, not that any journalists asked about the loans (see here). This week, however, a decision notice appeared on Salford Council's website confirming that the loans would not be transferred to the new Koukash-led company Salford City Reds (2013) Ltd.

It also stated that the Council has entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) with the old company, with its Directors signing an `Agreement To Pay' "to better secure repayment of the Council's loan by way of the personal guarantees".

In the meantime, the Council had entered into an "Over Arching Agreement with Salford City Reds (2013) Limited, the main terms of which are set out in this report". Of course, the report wasn't publicly available.

The Salford Star e-mailed Salford Council's press office to seek clarification, cc'd to City Mayor Ian Stewart, only to be met with a reply from its Public Relations office…

"It's no surprise that the Salford Star should respond so negatively to an agreement that is good for the council, good for the Reds and good for the city. But every silver lining has a cloud, eh?"

The whole point of the questions was to find out if it was `good for the city'. And whether council tax payers' loans of over £1.5million would be paid back. Despite further e-mails (see below) no-one at the supposedly neutral `Public Relations' department is letting on who sent the response…

…Was it a direct quote from City Mayor Ian Stewart? Was it someone in the press office who, perhaps, had just come back from a rather long liquid lunch? Or was it from £66,000 a year (equiv) spin doctor Matt Finnegan, who is effectively running the Council's PR department?

Salford Council certainly doesn't like people questioning its judgement at the moment or looking into its affairs…

• One horrified Labour Party councillor, Howard Balkind, got straight on the phone to Ian Stewart during last week's Public Meeting on cuts to services for children with disabilities, after hearing of intimidation by Council officers of their own workers. Staff were frightened to say publicly what the affects of the cuts would be on vulnerable children.

• The last publicly available figures showed that bullying at Salford Council was rifeformal complaints were running at over one per month (see here)

• Salford Star requests to see invoices and documents relating to Salford Council's accounts for 2012, as is a legal right, have been met by a brick wall – since last August!

• A Register of Interests for Salford City councillors and Assistant Mayors has still not been published – despite this being promised first for October and then for January.

• The Salford Star still doesn't know the full extent of public money loans to Salford City Reds because a Freedom of Information request sent in on 6th December has still not been answered.

But we digress…

The point of the questions in the first place was to find out what was happening to repay loans by Salford City Council to Salford City Reds. So here are the e-mails in full from Salford Star editor Stephen Kingston, and the replies from unsigned, unknown person in Salford Council press office…

From: Stephen Kingston
Sent: 06 February 2013 07:25
To: Public Relations
Cc: City Mayor
Subject: Salford City Reds


Having read the latest Decision Notice regarding Salford City Reds it would appear that the Council loan to the rugby club is still to be registered with the Directors of the `old' Salford Football Club Company (1914) Limited under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). Three questions…

1) Can you confirm that the Council loans have not transferred to the new Salford City Reds (2013) company?

2) I note that the Council is seeking an Agreement To Pay with Directors of Salford Football Club Company (1914) Limited – how do they intend to repay the loan? Are the original terms of repayment still in place?

3) The Council has entered into an Over Arching (sic) Agreement with Salford City Reds (2013) – can you explain what this means? I also note that the Source of Funding is `Existing Council Resources' – does this mean that the Council is investing more money into Salford City Reds (2013) ?

In line with lots of other questions asked to the Council recently by the Salford Star, we do not expect to receive a reply. But please be aware that we are intending to write this up as an article and wouldn't like to give out any wrong information which might damage the Council's reputation.


From: Public Relations
To: 'Stephen Kingston'
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 4:55 PM
Subject: RE: Salford City Reds

Hi Stephen,

It's no surprise that the Salford Star should respond so negatively to an agreement that is good for the council, good for the Reds and good for the city. But every silver lining has a cloud, eh?

The new owner has guaranteed to pay every penny the club owes to its creditors. Although you werent at the press conference at the stadium, which you have done so much to try and run down, you will know Dr Koukash's phrase was "100p in the pound". As a result of the take-over, the city council, and Salford's taxpayers , are now in an infinitely better position regarding the Reds. The council will receive its money and the club survives, saving jobs and fans' heartache. Win, win.

The council will continue to do all it can to support the club without providing new money.

Here are your answers:

1) Can you confirm that the Council loans have not transferred to the new Salford City Reds (2013) company?

The Council's loans have not transferred to the new company. They are however included in the CVA and will be repaid by the new company as per other creditors.

2) I note that the Council is seeking an Agreement To Pay with Directors of Salford Football Club Company (1914) Limited – how do they intend to repay the loan? Are the original terms of repayment still in place?

The original terms of repayment under the jointly held personal guarantees held by the former Directors are still in place. Obtaining an 'agreement to pay' from the Directors further reinforces the Council's position in this respect.

3) The Council has entered into an Over Arching (sic) Agreement with Salford City Reds (2013) – can you explain what this means? I also note that the Source of Funding is `Existing Council Resources' – does this mean that the Council is investing more money into Salford City Reds (2013)?

The Overarching Agreement between the Council and Salford City Reds (2013) Ltd sets out how the Council will support the Club over the next 5 years. This includes advice and guidance on health and safety, HR systems and procedures and the facilitation of introductions to businesses in respect of potential sponsorship. No new monies will be given to the Club.

From: Stephen Kingston


Thanks for that unsigned professional response. Who on earth are you?

In order to ascertain some truth the Salford Star is entitled to ask questions. It's called accountability and democracy. The press asks questions, you give answers (when you feel like it).

Had we been invited to the press conference we would have asked such questions to Mr Koukash direct - rather than `Which would you rather win, the Derby or the Super League'. Maybe that's why we weren't invited.

We do hope that if you reply you would be courteous enough to sign your name


PS don't talk to us about silver linings and clouds - there's enough dark clouds hovering over Salford to sink a Zeppelin which we're dealing with every day, unpaid. See some of this week's articles.

Adar Molyneux wrote
at 5:01:47 AM on Sunday, February 24, 2013
Left wing bitterness and general noseiness still continues from this wannabe rag.....
Bernard wrote
at 12:38:30 PM on Friday, February 22, 2013
James, are you privy to the goings on behind the Council's closed doors? The point is that the Council were asked for information, refused to give that information & then called the Salford Star negative.
Salford Star wrote
at 7:53:34 AM on Friday, February 22, 2013
See James' comment below... perhaps if you take off your Koukash tinted glasses for a minute you might notice that the loan payments back to Salford Council have been `extended' over more years, according to the BBC today. How many years and what the terms are no-one knows - because the Council ain't saying, not even under Freedom of Info Act (as yet). Do not forget, this is public money. And journalists and the public have a right to know what's going on. The answer everyone wants from the Council is, to put it bluntly, the truth.
James wrote
at 7:48:06 AM on Friday, February 22, 2013
Maybe if you stepped away from ranting a little bit, you would realise that the £1.5m loan from Salford City Council will be paid back in FULL by the new company, because the Council is a creditor, like many other people, and an agreement is in place to pay 100p to the pound back. So what exactly is your issue? Perhaps you would have preferred for the new company to simply wipe away all its debts, and then the council, local businesses, staff and suppliers would have got nothing. Or perhaps, you would have preferred for the club to go under entirely, and then the council, local businesses, staff and suppliers would lose any potential for earning money in the future. What answer did you want from the council exactly? "Yes Stephen, we're going to go round to Dr Koukash's house at the weekend and demand £1.5m right now".
Prisoner Irlam wrote
at 5:13:13 PM on Tuesday, February 12, 2013
PR my arse his type are all part of a well oiled machine commonly known a B..LS..IT ....democracy ...debateable the clowns at the Ivory tower appear to be off the hook goodluck and have a good nights sleep it will all come out in the wash when we don't know but it will!!!!! Somebody what to spill the beens ????
Ian O'Brien wrote
at 4:16:19 PM on Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Once again Stephen Kingston shows remarkable skill and professionalism in getting to the real stories which matter to the people of Salford. - Where do we go when we want real, local news? The Advertiser? The MEN? No chance. I turn to the Salford Star every time because it is the only news outlet not beholden to anybody but it's readers. If there was an award, I would give it to the Salford Star and it's editor. But, there isn't - at least not one I am able to hand out ha ha. So, instead let me say I salute you. A real journalist and a genuine fighter for all truth Nice one Steve. Keep 'em coming lad!!
mary ferrer wrote
at 2:03:16 AM on Saturday, February 9, 2013
The plot gets thicker. We give loans to a club that is up to its eyes in debt,the club gets sold and the new owner takes on some of the debts,not all.How did they pick what debts went with the club. What happens if the directors become bankrupt. The money was to be paid back on the build of houses on the former sight,which is owned by Mr Watson,with a pension fund for Mr Wilkinson tied into the site, plus the money owned to the Coop bank and there is a chance there is another bank also owed money.Hope I am wrong, but I think we can wave goodbye to any chance of seeing our money.Why are we giving services to a private company without them making payments. This city is on its knees,we are cutting services to the most vulnerable members of our community,people losing their jobs, suffering pay cuts and we are still giving handouts, maybe not financial,but at a financial cost to the people of Salford, we WILL be paying all the wages of the people giving their advice and help to a PRIVATE BUSINESS.Because that is what it is.
Salford Star wrote
at 2:51:13 PM on Friday, February 8, 2013
See comment below...It costs six thousand quid to get an issue of Salford Star out in print. All donations welcome - but we don't tell people how to vote. Take it that by `corruption' you mean `moral corruption', unless you can prove otherwise...
at 2:46:34 PM on Friday, February 8, 2013
to Salford star, how much doe's it cost to publish one issue of the mag Salford star, seems we need to get the mag out there when Stuart and even hazel blears comes up for re-election, we need to start a fighting fund to get these unaccountable parasites out of office, and I can think of no better way than the Salford star mag on the run up to their re-elections, we need to show the people of Salford what is being done in their name, namely corruption on a grand scale.
m irlam wrote
at 7:16:19 AM on Friday, February 8, 2013
Well done Salford Star, it's starting to look like Mr PR is rattled
Michael Felse wrote
at 7:16:14 AM on Friday, February 8, 2013
I have written to the District Auditor on this matter of loan recovery. I will update when a reply comes in.
S. Arundel wrote
at 7:16:09 AM on Friday, February 8, 2013
Obviously the lack of transparancy from the clowncil cretins indicates what we already knew . Gross incompetence is being covered up by these dim cretins . Keep up the good work , Salford Star . Salford needs you . Let's get the odious clowcil exposed for public scrutiny . Let's see where they have been pissing our money away on stupid schemes that will never benefit us ripped-off citizens .
Kevin wrote
at 4:46:58 AM on Friday, February 8, 2013
So why has the old company entered into a CVA if they are going to be paying all creditors in full? Normally when this happens with companies the return will be x pence in the £. It is my worry that the only creditors that will be seeing any cash are those under the new co, that does not include the council which is a creditor of the old company. Question is did the council agree to the CVA as legally 70% of the value of creditors must, i can't see HMRC agreeing to it as the old company now has no income source to satify the agreement. I don't blame Koukash at the end of the day he is a businessman looking to secure himself the best deal and if the daft council are willing to keep the loan with the old company (that no longer has an income) then why wouldn't he bite their hands off. Any clue as to who the administrator of the CVA is?????
A.P. wrote
at 4:46:07 AM on Friday, February 8, 2013
WELL DONE , STEPHEN ! Greatful thanks to our Salford Star for informing us shafted residents of the activities of the inept wasters at the Clowncil . Please pursue your right to Freedom of Information requests . Let's blow the lid off this city , and its thoroughly rotton , taxpayer-robbing clowncil .
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