In a withering assessment of the AJ Bell Stadium, joint owned by Salford City Council and Peel Holdings, Sale Sharks owner, Simon Orange, has sent a message to supporters stating that the club is at 'breaking point' over the ground.
"All at the club empathise with the gauntlet you run having to get to the stadium" he writes "Believe me when I say we have very little influence over these endless obstacles and battle constantly with the powers that be. We have this week written to the Board of CosCos (City of Salford Community Stadium), the company responsible for managing the stadium, requesting an emergency meeting."
As well as what he calls the "disastrous traffic situation", he slates the "speed of service and quality of offering" and "ticket sales and distribution which needs attention"...
"We had been holding off hoping that we could at least bring some good news with the announcement of the new Barton Lifting Bridge finally opening but, as you may have seen in local news reports, this has further been delayed" Orange adds.*
"This emergency meeting is to help us decide if there is any way we can continue to use the AJ Bell stadium as we, as well as you, are reaching breaking point..." he explains.
As well as the Stadium board members, the Sharks have invited a further 28 people to attend the emergency meeting, including, from Salford Council, Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett; Chief Exec Jim Taylor; Transport Lead Member, Roger Jones; and Executive Support Officer for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Councillor Ann-Marie Humphreys, plus Councillor Robin Garrido and Councillor Barry Warner, who sit on the committee for Transport for Greater Manchester.
Also invited are Peel Holdings' James Whittaker, MPs Barbara Keeley and Kate Green, and GM Mayor Andy Burnham, plus representatives from Urban Vision, Trafford Council, Highways England and Hochtief, which is responsible for the construction of the Barton Lifting Bridge.
"....So far we have had only one reply showing any interest" Orange states "Hopefully, our request for this emergency meeting won't be ignored but we'll see. Feel free to complain directly to anyone listed!"
The Sale Sharks owner also confirms that the club has been negotiating with Peel Holdings and Salford Council to buy the stadium... "Although it isn't ideally placed geographically and, currently, is poorly served by public transport, we believe over the next few years with the bridge opening (hopefully) and the tram coming to The Trafford Centre by 2020, coupled with the use of the shuttle bus services we're planning, that the AJ Bell might prove a workable stadium" he explains.**
"We have also been exploring other options with Cheshire East Council and Trafford Council to build our own stadium as well as holding talks with a number of other organisations to give us some alternatives to the stadium in Salford" he adds "It's a painful process but we're looking at all of our options..."
The AJ Bell Stadium, has continued to make huge losses, with the latest Council accounts showing a £1.459million loss last year, with net liabilities of £7.068million (see previous Salford Star article for full details – click here).
In August cash-strapped Salford Council granted another loan of £632,500 to its Stadium company, taking the total outstanding amount owed to almost £25million - £7.442million for 'operational funding', and £16.678million for the actual building of the stadium.
To read the full message from Simon Orange - click here
See also previous related Salford Star articles...
* Salford Council Held To Ransom By Peel Holdings Over New Ship Canal Bridge – click here
** Sale Sharks Offer To Buy AJ Bell Stadium 'Unacceptable' – click here