Reds given more time
Salford City Reds were today granted a stay of execution as talks were set to get under way to rescue the ailing Super League club.
A winding-up petition brought before the Manchester District Registry of The High Court Of Justice by former players Luke Patten and Vinnie Anderson and HM Revenue and Customs was adjourned for a second time, this time by a month until February 4.
That is three days after the City Reds are due to play their opening match of Super League XVIII against Wigan at the Salford City Stadium.
It leaves coach Phil Veivers hamstrung in his attempts to bring in new players but will give the cash-struck club more time to find a buyer.
A Salford spokesman said the hearing was adjourned after the court heard that talks with a potential investor were due to take place today.
Chairman John Wilkinson, who is ready to step aside after almost 30 years at the helm, welcomed today’s adjournment.
He said: “Everyone is working every available hour to ensure that the ongoing negotiations progress forward into an outcome that secures the future success of the Salford Rugby League Club.
“We appreciate what a stressful time this is for staff, players and supporters and thank you all for your patience and understanding. What today’s ruling provides is the time needed to secure the investment and we are grateful for the opportunity to do so.
“One thing is foremost in our minds - Salford’s rugby club must continue for the fans of today to enjoy and for the generations of fans to come.”
The winding-up petition was originally brought by management consultants Steuer Greggson over an unpaid bill but taken over by Patten and supported by HMRC when the club settled with the Cheshire-based company.
The petition was heard on October 29 and adjourned until today when HMRC took over as the main creditor with a debt thought to be close to £300,000. The two former players are owed around £70,000.
“HMRC are now in the driving seat,” Patten’s manager Richard Cramer told Press Association Sport.
Wilkinson estimates the club need £600,000 to survive the new season but a rescue plan collapsed in December when local councillors voted against a proposed £750,000 loan.
Development company Peel Holdings, who with the local authority are joint owners of the Salford City Stadium, were prepared to match the council loan and are due to take part in talks today with a potential buyer.
The Rugby Football League, led by chief executive Nigel Wood, are also heavily involved in the rescue plan, featuring an unnamed businessman who is thought to be interested in investing in the Super League club.
Veivers will be particularly keen for a speedy resolution to the current impasse.
With the club’s bank accounts frozen, he has been unable to add to the one new signing he has made and, with a raft of first-teamers leaving Salford at the end of last season, was unable to raise a team to play a friendly against Leigh last month.
However, Veivers’ was able to put out a team yesterday that gained a 52-12 win over Swinton. That team included new recruit Andrew Dixon and former Wigan Warriors and Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson, who played as a trialist.
Gleeson has completed an 18-month suspension and is poised to sign a two-year contract.