A MOVE to the Salford City Stadium will enable Sale Sharks to achieve their ambition of becoming “a northern super club”, according to chief executive Steve Diamond.
The Aviva Premiership outfit have confirmed they will ground-share with Stobart Super League neighbours Salford City Reds from next season at the 12,000-capacity stadium at Barton, which was completed earlier this year at a cost of £26 million.
Sale, who will leave their current home at Edgeley Park next month, will pay a six-figure annual rent to stadium owners Peel Holdings and Salford City Council after agreeing a 25-year lease.
The Sharks had the option of re-developing Edgeley Park but concluded Barton offered better value for money. Sale believe the location – next to the M60 and the Trafford Centre shopping complex – will enable the club to grow.
“They didn’t build the Trafford Centre there by chance,” said Diamond. “They put it there because it’s the most accessible spot in the greater Manchester region.
“With its facilities, the stadium will assist in the recruitment of world-class players and the full-size pitch will allow us to play the fast, expansive game we have committed to. We are building a northern super club and the stadium is a vital component of that plan.”
The stadium has a retro-fit to allow its capacity to be increased to 20,000. “I think 12,000 will be great for the first two or three years. If we [reach the Heineken Cup] on a regular basis, I think the retro-fit will be needed. Once you get past 15,000, you’re in the same league as the big sides from France and Ireland and the world is your oyster.”