Sale may leave AJ Bell Stadium
January 31, 2014
Sale have been unimpressed with their new Salford home © Getty Images
Sale Sharks could leave the AJ Bell Stadium after just 18 months in Salford as it has 'fallen short of expectation'.
The club is thought to be exploring a range of new options, including Bolton's Reebok Arena or Leigh Sports Village. A possible return to Edgeley Park in Stockport has also been mooted.
Attendances in Salford have dropped from their Edgeley Park average of 8,000 to just under 6,000 despite a successful season on the domestic and European front. Sale signed a 25-year lease at AJ Bell Stadium in 2012 but are meeting stadium owners and council representatives to voice concerns.
"The stadium, without attaching blame, has fallen short of expectation," club chairman Gordon McKie told the Manchester Evening News.
"Sale moved there in anticipation of preserving crowds, revenues and even growing them, and that has just not happened.
"It's a complex area, M60 traffic queues, access, leaving the stadium, car parks, catering, hospitality, match-day management, event management. How long have you got?
"So to be frank, it's going to have to improve. I've personally engaged both Salford Council and [stadium owners] Peel Holdings, and I've made it very clear what our views are.
"I have asked them to consider the matter as a matter of urgency with a view to talking to them again in the very near future to hear what potential plans they may have.
"We are in a spanking new stadium which has issues with transport and infrastructure, and there are other issues, and it needs to be made more supporter-friendly. If we can't bring that about we are going have to consider what is best for Sale Sharks.
"Hopefully, we will engage and address these problems because at the moment it is evident that with our attendances falling it's just not sustainable."
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