Sale confirm Salford stadium switch
April 4, 2012
Sale will leave Edgeley Park at the end of the season © Getty Images
Sale Sharks have confirmed that they will leave Edgeley Park at the end of the season in order to take up residence at Salford City Stadium.
The ambitious Aviva Premiership club will ground-share with Super League neighbours Salford City Reds at the 12,000-capacity stadium at Barton, which was completed earlier this year at a cost of £26million.
The Sharks will open their account at the ground with a friendly against reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster in August.
"We're in our 150th year and I think it's one of the biggest steps the club has made in those 150 years," Sale boss Steve Diamond said. "It's central. They didn't build the Trafford Centre there by chance. They put it there because it's the most accessible spot in the greater Manchester region.
"With its wonderful facilities, the stadium will no doubt assist in the recruitment and retention of world-class players and the full size pitch will allow us to play the fast, expansive game we have committed to as a team. 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, if required in the future, and Diamond hopes that regular Heineken Cup rugby will allow the club to utilise the new stadium's full potential.
"I think 12,000 will be great for the first two or three years as we consolidate the team in the Premiership and try to get into the Heineken Cup," added Diamond. "If we do that on a regular basis, I think the retro-fit will be needed. Once you get past the 15,000 levels in rugby union, you're in the same league as the big sides from France and Ireland and the world is your oyster."
Sale recently demonstrated their ambition with the signing of England fly-half Danny Cipriani and Diamond confirmed the club are in final negotiations with a new director of rugby/head coach to replace Tony Hanks.
"It should be finalised by the end of the season," he said. "The guy is currently in the Premiership and we need to do things correctly."
Sale co-owner Ian Blackhurst lamented their exit from Edgeley Park, but admitted that poor facilities at the ground were hampering their progress.
"Edgeley Park has been a real home from home for us since 2004," he said. "However, despite it being a really iconic ground, it continues to fail the Professional Game Board's minimum standards criteria, resulting in considerable additional expense via fines and upgrade work."
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