The winding up petition against Salford City Reds has been adjourned again by the Manchester District Registry of the High Court of Justice because of talks with a potential investor in the Super League club; millionaire racehorse owner Marwan Koukash.
The petition against The Reds, understood to owe around £600,000, will now be heard on 4 February 2013 three days after their first game of the season against Wigan and there is hope that a deal can be reached before then.
The landlords of the club’s Salford City Stadium, development company Peel Holdings and Salford Council, met with Dr Koukash at a secret location to discuss keeping the club afloat. Dr Koukash, who is a worldwide property developer and has almost 100 horses in training, is originally from Kuwait but has lived in Liverpool for 30 years. It is thought Dr Koukash would be unlikely to go it alone at the Salford City Stadium, with Peel set to hold the key to any rescue plan.
A club statement said: “All concerned parties agreed that there was a real possibility that a positive conclusion could be reached and that this would be preferable to the execution of the lodged winding-up petition against Salford Football Club 1914 Ltd.”
The winding up petition against the club was originally brought by sponsors and management consultants Steuer Gregsson due to an overdue payment. Whilst the club settled that dispute out of court, the petition was joined by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (thought to be owed £300,000) and former players Luke Patten and Vinnie Anderson, who are claiming £70,000 between them in unpaid wages.
John Wilkinson, the Salford chairman, added: “What today’s ruling provides is the time needed to secure the investment and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so. We appreciate what a stressful time this is for staff, players and supporters and thank you all for your patience and understanding.
“One thing is foremost in our minds – Salford’s rugby club must continue for the fans of today to enjoy and for the generations of fans to come. Everyone is working every available hour to ensure that the ongoing negotiations progress forward into an outcome that secures the future success of the Salford rugby league club.”
The Rugby Football League’s (RFL) chief executive, Nigel Wood, played an important role in bringing about Monday’s talks and is hoping a resolution can be found quickly. In December Salford City Council rejected a rescue plan after being asked to loan the club £750,000.
As Salford have had their bank accounts frozen, their coach Phil Veivers has only been able to add one name to his squad after the departure of many first-team players at the end of last season, when they finished ninth in the table. Regardless of the lack of new additions, Salford played their first friendly of the season yesterday against local rivals Swinton Lions and won 52-12. Despite a turnout of only 1,811 people, the Red’s supporters held bucket collections at the ground during the game.