AJ Bell Stadium given special status, with new rules affecting sale of site
Community groups will be the first in line to bid for the AJ Bell Stadium if it is put on the market – but current plans to sell the stadium will not be affected.
Salford council has approved an application by Salford Red Devils to list the stadium as an asset of community value, giving it a special protected status.
The move means a six-month moratorium period would come into effect if the owner intends to sell the stadium and a community group wants to bid for it.
This gives groups time to express an interest, raise funds and make an offer.
The AJ Bell Stadium, which is shared as the home of Salford Red Devils and Sale Sharks, is currently owned by City of Salford Community Stadium Ltd (CoSCoS) - a joint venture between Salford council and developer Peel L&P.
Sale Sharks and Salford City FC, who currently play at The Peninsula Stadium in Moor Lane, are in talks about buying the AJ Bell, which could see Salford City FC and Salford Red Devils swap stadiums if a deal is agreed.
But although the restrictions on any future sale have now come into effect due to its special protected status, this sale and possible stadium swap would not be subject to these new rules.
This is because the restrictions only come into force if the stadium itself is up for sale – but in this case it would be CoSCoS, which owns the stadium, being sold.
It comes as CoSCoS is more than £32m in debt, according to the latest accounts, after the local authority invested millions into the stadium company as well as giving the Red Devils a break on loan repayments.
Salford council confirmed any potential sale of the stadium by CosCos will take place as a company sale so it will not be subject to the new community value restrictions.
Meanwhile, the local authority is also looking to acquire the football club's lease of the Moor Lane site, to give the council full control.
Salford Reds could then potentially lease the smaller stadium from the council.
Council officers recommended the application by Salford RD Holdings Limited to list the AJ Bell Stadium as an asset of community value should be approved.
Deputy mayor Tracy Kelly approved the application on Monday (October 10).
She said: "Having looked at this, I believe that's where we are at and I do believe we should accept the recommendation."
The approval of the application is effective once the decision is registered.
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