sport

Koukash completes Salford deal

Millionaire racehorse owner Marwan Koukash has completed his purchase of Super League club Salford City Reds.

Dr Koukash, owner of global executive training company EuroMaTech, brought to an end months of uncertainty over the future of the beleaguered Reds by confirming his successful takeover at a press conference at the City of Salford Stadium.

The former Palestinian refugee has bought the club from long-serving Salford chairman John Wilkinson, who has personally kept Salford afloat over the last 30 years and has been invited by Koukash to become its life president.

"It gives me great pleasure to confirm that my purchase of Salford City Reds has now been completed ahead of the start of the 2013 Super League season," Dr Koukash said.

Thursday'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.

Dr Koukash has been involved in rescue talks with Wilkinson and development company Peel Holdings and Salford Council, the joint landlords of the Barton stadium, for the last month.

"It has been a difficult and sometimes very fraught process and I can understand why some of our fans have been frustrated," he added.

"I would like to place on record my thanks to John Wilkinson, Salford City Council and Peel Holdings for their co-operation in the last few months. Without them, we wouldn't all be where we are today."

Dr Koukash, who was introduced to rugby league through a chance meeting with RFL chief executive Nigel Wood on a flight to Dubai, has pledged to make funds available to head coach Phil Veivers for team strengthening in an effort to turn around the club's fortunes.

"This is a very exciting day for Salford City Reds and a momentous day for rugby league," the new owner added.

"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.

"It will not happen overnight and I urge our fans to be patient as we set out on an amazing journey. My message is that 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."

Koukash stepped into the crisis after a rescue plan collapsed before Christmas when Salford councillors voted not to offer the club a 750,000 loan.

Salford city mayor Ian Stewart said: "I am delighted that Marwan Koukash has stepped in to rescue the Reds and take over ownership of the club.

"It is the culmination of months of extremely delicate negotiations which the city council has been hosting in an attempt to save the club.

"I am sure that, with Mr Koukash's new dynamic leadership, his wide business experience and long-term investment plans for the Reds, the club can now go from strength to strength."