Rugby League - Koukash has grounds for optimism

Marwan Koukash is confident of bringing lasting success to Salford City Reds but admits the key is gaining control of the £26million stadium at Barton.

PA Sport
Rugby League - Koukash has grounds for optimism

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Marwan Koukash expects to complete his takeover on Monday

The Kuwait-born multi-millionaire businessman, who is a St Helens-based racehorse owner, outlined his ambitious plans to transform the City Reds' fortunes after watching them for the first time in Thursday night's pre-season friendly against Wigan.

Koukash, who expects to complete his takeover by Monday, said: "I got hooked on rugby by watching my local team, St Helens, on a couple of occasions. It's a lovely sport to be involved in and I hope it has the same kind of success racing gave me."

He added: "I have been looking to get involved with a club and, when the opportunity came along, Nigel Wood (Rugby Football League's chief executive) introduced Salford to me - and I'm very glad to be involved."

Only last week Salford avoided a winding-up petition over unpaid bills amounting to around £400,000 but the club's future suddenly looks bright. Koukash has pledged funds for coach Phil Veivers to bring in new players in time for the opening match of the new Super League season and to spend up to the £1.65million salary cap.

"I'm not a sugar daddy but I'm somebody who will facilitate that," said Koukash, who has a string of property developments and a stable of more than 100 racehorses. "Saving the Reds is not a big deal, the bigger deal is creating a team that could compete and win trophies for a number of years to come."

Koukash believes a winning team could attract regular five-figure attendances within four years. But he warns the club would need to maximise its earning potential to become successful and he is hoping to buy the stadium and surrounding land - or at least a major stake in it - from Salford Council and Peel Holdings.

"The problem Salford face is that it has no home," Koukash added. "It's a tenant in a stadium. It has to train miles away from where it plays and the income it generates is far less than the expenditure. Salford must look at ways of creating extra income from commercial ventures.

"Here around this stadium there are many opportunities to develop such ventures and part of the deal we're looking at is for Salford to have a share or an interest in the stadium as well as to be able to develop some of the surrounding land.

"We've talked about things like a high-performance gym and a hostel for the academy players. That's why the deal is taking longer to arrange than expected. I'd like to have the security of the deal on the stadium and some kind of development."

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