CLUB STATEMENT: SALFORD STADIUM UPDATE

CLUB STATEMENT: SALFORD STADIUM UPDATE

by | Nov 9, 2023

The Club has issued the following statement on the stadium situation, and the lack of progress made during almost 3-years of discussions.

Until this point, we have been bound by good faith and an understanding that our cooperation would result in a timely and fair agreement on securing our future at the stadium built for our club over a decade ago. It is clear that our cooperation has been misinterpreted as our consent for inaction by some officers in the Council.

Admirably, Mayor Dennett has moved with the intention of keeping the Club in the City of Salford, embracing our transition to community ownership, and recognising publicly our role in the important delivery of physical and mental health support across our communities. However, for this to continue, we urgently need Council officers to act, and to see a conclusion from the Council in their negotiations over the lease before it is too late.

After endless pontification and procrastination by Council officers, we are less than a month away from having no such agreement, and the stark reality now is that without their action in the coming days and weeks, the future of the Club is at risk.

Nearly 3-years on from the initial approach made by Sale Sharks to purchase the stadium – a move which would have compromised our home and, as a result, our Super League status – the Club has continually struggled yet continued to operate under the terms of an unfavourable lease agreement that has hampered our ability to become self-sustainable and grow.

In addition, there has been a series of failures from which the Club must seemingly always bear the brunt alone.

  • A benefit of our transition to community ownership earlier this year was that we were able to stretch funds to reach the conclusion of the stadium deal, under the belief that we were months away. Not only has this failed to materialise, but the dithering has also restricted our ability to access the matched funding opportunities that are dependent on having heads of terms of the stadium deal.
  • Discussions around access to state aid are still ongoing after 12 months, throughout which the Club were asked to produce a business plan without knowing details relating to incomes or costs associated with the stadium deal.
  • The Club were also promised a percentage of food & beverage sales from February 2023. The failure to progress the stadium deal has resulted in a significant loss to budget.
  • Despite StadCo retaining 100% of F&B sales on Salford Red Devils matchdays, and StadCo taking an additional minimum 8% of our ticketing, there has been a developing narrative that the Club is not paying its way, when in reality the unfavourable terms of the current tenancy agreement is extracting from the Club’s key income sources, on top of rent.
  • A car parking price hike was introduced a week prior to our 2023 season starting, which costs the Club an unbudgeted £1k per matchday.
  • Following assured income failing to materialise, the Club took a loan of £175k from the Council and are now subsequently making repayments with interest on a loan that had the expected progress been made, would never have been needed.

The Club is personally loaned and guaranteed to its limits, having made incredible sacrifices to survive – including the subsequent sales of star players that were only necessary due to a lack of resolution over the stadium deal. Had this been in place when expected – prior to February 2023 – access to the proceeding income streams would have made unforeseen reductions to central distributions less significant a blow and our position now be much stronger.

In the last few months alone, we have generated more commercial interest in the stadium than any other party in the previous 3 years. This includes:

  • We have brought forward discussions and agreed in principle a commercial opportunity generating considerable income streams for the Club, which can only proceed once we have received heads of terms.
  • We have formulated and agreed in principle a city-wide rugby strategy, meaning every single child in the City of Salford would be able to connect with Salford Red Devils as well as our sport and the opportunities it can provide.
  • We have introduced an educational partner and sub-tenant of Salford Red Devils. This now appears to have been taken away from us, with the Club now apparently unable to gain income from any potential agreement.

The endless negotiations are unravelling an incredible amount of hard-work and opportunities generated by Salford Red Devils. We are routinely reaching for the stars, whilst simultaneously having our arms tied behind our backs.

Our current tenancy arrangement expires on 1st December. A failure to resolve places the Club at risk of a compliance issue with the RFL in respect of minimum standards due to not having a minimum 5-year tenancy agreement in place. As a result, this would severely impact our IMG grading and potentially put our Super League status at risk, reducing our central distributions from £1.31m to circa £50k per annum and effectively liquidating the Club.

We urge those involved to deliver on their word of recent years with urgency, and in doing so ensure that the future of Salford’s Club is safeguarded.

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