Koukash targets Salford glory
31st January 2013
New Salford City Reds owner Marwan Koukash has pledged to bring silverware to the City Reds after completing his takeover of the cash-stricken Super League club.
The millionaire racehorse owner spoke of his ambitious plans to transform the fortunes of the Manchester club at a press conference at the Salford City Stadium today.
“This is the beginning of a new journey, a journey that is going to end by delivering trophies for the city of Salford and I’m very honoured to have been given the chance to deliver that,” Dr Koukash said.
Koukash, owner of global executive training company EuroMaTech, has bought the club from long-serving Salford chairman John Wilkinson, who has personally kept Salford afloat over the last 30 years.
The takeover was sanctioned by the Rugby Football League, whose board of directors this afternoon agreed to transfer the Super League licence to the new owner.
The one-time Palestinian refugee will be joined on the Reds board by former New Zealand RL chairman Andrew Chalmers and ex-Wigan Warriors and New Zealand coach Graham Lowe, who becomes director of rugby.
The club’s new chief executive will be Ed Farish, a former director of finance at the Australian National Rugby League whose most recent post was that of chief financial officer at Gold Coast Titans.
Today’s announcement comes four days before the club are due back in court in Manchester to face a winding-up petition brought by HM Revenue and Customs and former players Luke Patten and Vinnie Anderson over unpaid bills thought to be in excess of £600,000.
The new owner told the press conference that all the creditors would be paid in full and announced a five-year sponsorship deal with Peel Holdings and six new signings to help coach Phil Veivers’ rebuilding plans.
In addition to former Castleford Tigers utility back Ryan McGoldrick, who has signed a two-year contract, and loanees Rhys Williams and Jack Murphy, whose signings had already been announced, Veivers revealed the acquisition of Australians Liam Foran and Vic Mauro from Manly Sea Eagles.
Foran, 24, a half-back, is the younger brother of New Zealand international Kieran Foran, while prop or second rower Mauro, 25, was a member of the Sea Eagles’ 2011 Grand Final-winning team.
The Reds are also giving a three-month trial to South Sydney half-back Connor Higgins, who is a British passport holder and arrived in the country yesterday.
While Foran and Mauro wait for their visas, McGoldrick, Williams and Murphy all go straight into Salford’s team for tomorrow’s opening Super League fixture with Wigan at Barton.
The club have four more transfer targets but Veivers says he has already started with Lowe to look beyond this season.
“That’s where we are up to with our signings,” Veivers told the press conference.
“That is not to say we haven’t identified other people for this year but the recruitment process is now very much under way for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“The news has lifted the boys in the dressing room. There are smiles on faces.”
Dr Koukash, who was introduced to rugby league through a chance meeting with RFL chief executive Nigel Wood on a long-haul flight to Dubai three years ago, called for patience from supporters but insists he can turn the Reds into champions.
“No other club in the sport has the potential of Salford City Reds and I give a firm commitment to do all I can to help realise that potential,” he added.
“It will not happen overnight and I urge our fans to be patient as we set out on an amazing journey. The hard work starts now.
“I have not purchased Salford City Reds just to save the club, I have done so because I want it to succeed.
“As in racing, I wouldn’t send any of my horses into a race unless I felt we could win. Finishing second is not an option.
“Somebody asked me if I would be happy with a top-eight place. I said ’yes, providing we are top of the eight’.”