Sale Sharks in joint bid with Salford City to purchase AJ Bell Stadium

Premiership Rugby Union club Sale Sharks chief executive Sid Sutton has outlined a joint bid with English Football League side Salford City to buy its current home, the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, Greater Manchester. 

At present, the bid will not be tabled until current shared-tenant Super League rugby club Salford Red Devils finds a new stadium to play its home games. The introduction of Salford City is because the rugby league side previously said that it cannot afford to be part of a joint bid for the stadium. 

Originally, Sale was in the running to build a new stadium but this fell through towards the end of last year. During an interview, chief executive Sutton said that the plans falling through was “disappointing for everyone at the club”. 

“One of the options we looked at was building a new stadium at the Crossford Bridge Playing Fields, in Sale, but as was well documented last year, the Trafford Council withdrew its support for that plan in September,” he said.

“That was really disappointing for everyone at the club, partly because an awful lot of time, money and effort had gone into the process, but mostly because we believe that taking the club back to its roots in Sale was the best way to grow the club and secure our future.” 

Sutton also said that the club wouldn’t put the official bid in until the “Salford Red Devils are being looked after”. 

“During the due diligence process, it became apparent that financially remaining at the AJ Bell Stadium wasn’t an option for Salford Red Devils,” Sutton said. “In addition, they openly said that they couldn’t afford to either buy the AJ Bell Stadium or stay there as a tenant so we actively sought a second party to buy the stadium with us.”

In mid-August, it was reported that the Salford Red Devils outlet was considering a move to Salford City’s Moor Lane Stadium, as Sale was interested in buying the AJ Bell Stadium. 

Salford currently plays in League Two and is owned by former Manchester United players Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt. 

Sale Sharks and Salford City will now put together a join bid to acquire the stadium from City of Salford Community Stadium Ltd, which is owned by Peel Holdings and Salford City Council. 

Sutton said: “Salford City are a willing party with huge ambition and a need for a new home, they also have the financial ability to be a joint owner of the AJ Bell.” 

Image: Clément Bucco-Lechat/(CC BY-SA 3.0)/Edited for size