Koukash could be Salford saviour
Millionaire racehorse owner Marwan Koukash has been unveiled as the mystery businessman locked in talks aimed at saving Salford City Reds.
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Dr Koukash, who has made the bulk of his fortune from worldwide property development, attended a meeting at a secret location with development company Peel Holdings and Salford Council, the joint landlords of the Salford City Stadium who are both keen to keep the ailing Super League club afloat.
The City Reds' potential saviour, who has almost 100 horses in training, is originally from Kuwait but has lived in Liverpool for 30 years and has his main offices based less than 10 minutes away from Haydock Park racecourse.
It is thought Dr Koukash would be unlikely to go it alone at the Salford City Stadium, with Peel set to hold the key to any rescue plan.
The Super League club, who were earlier today successful in staving off the threat of liquidation at a court hearing in Manchester, were not represented at the meeting at which the Rugby Football League acted as brokers.
There was no official comment from any of their parties involved but talks are expected to resume later in the week, once Peel and the council have taken stock of their positions.
Salford say they need around £600,000 to survive the new season but a rescue plan collapsed in December when local councillors voted against a proposed £750,000 loan, which Peel were prepared to match.
It was the prospect of new investment that persuaded a judge to grant an adjournment of a winding-up petition brought by former players Luke Patten and Vinnie Anderson and HM Revenue and Customs.
The hearing, at the Manchester District Registry of The High Court Of Justice, was put off until February 4, three days after the City Reds are due to play their opening match of Super League XVIII against Wigan at the Salford City Stadium.
In a statement, Salford said: "This additional time has been granted following careful consideration of the current position regarding new investment into the business.
"All concerned parties agreed that there was a real possibility that a positive conclusion could be reached and that this would be preferable to the execution of the lodged winding up petition against Salford Football Club 1914 Ltd."
City Reds chairman John Wilkinson, who is ready to step down after around 30 years at the helm, welcomed his club's stay of execution.
"Everyone is working every available hour to ensure that the on-going negotiations progress forward into an outcome that secures the future success of the Salford Rugby League Club," Wilkinson said.
"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 three months ago 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. Patten and Anderson are owed around £70,000.
One man desperate for a speedy resolution to the crisis is Salford head coach Phil Veivers, who has less than four weeks to prepare for his side's opening league fixture.
With the club's bank accounts frozen, Veivers has been unable to add to the one new signing he has made and, with a raft of first-teamers leaving at the end of last season, he 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 and Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson, who played as a trialist.
Gleeson has completed an 18-month suspension imposed for a drugs offence and is poised to sign a two-year contract.