Sale Sharks have confirmed this morning that from next season they will play at Salford City Stadium, ending a nine year association with Edgeley Park. The current ground, owned by Stockport County, was the fortress behind domestic success in 2006 when Sale won the Premiership title, but the need for a larger capacity ground in recent years has forced the club to look elsewhere.
The Sharks have signed a 25 year lease (with a review period after five seasons) and will begin life at their new home ground in August 2012 with a high profile friendly against current European Champions Leinster. They will share the brand new 12,000 capacity stadium with Salford City Reds Rugby League Club.
Co-owner Ian Blackhurst has said:
“This is a tremendous move for Sale Sharks and the first class facilities at the Salford City Stadium will provide a great platform as we aim to become one of the top club rugby union sides in Europe. We believe that more supporters, sponsors and corporate guests will be attracted by the modern and comfortable surroundings that the new stadium offers. The more we grow our support base, the more we can invest in the team and our support programmes and this investment will give us a greater chance of success.
The position of the Salford City Stadium at the intersection of a number of major motorways makes us accessible to more people across the north west of England. It is also closer to our historical roots in Sale. We will be implementing a comprehensive travel and transport plan to ensure that as many of our current supporters can continue to attend home games. Their support has always been important to us.
Edgeley Park has been a real home from home for us since 2004. 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.”
Steve Diamond has also added:
“I’m delighted to be moving to the Salford City Stadium and the wonderful facilities that it offers everyone connected to the club. The stadium will no doubt assist in the recruitment and retention of world class players and the full sized pitch will allow us to play the fast, expansive game that we have committed to as a team. We are building a Northern Super Club and the stadium is a vital component of that plan.”