Koukash writes off Salford debt
Former Salford Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash has said he will write off the debt at the struggling Super League club and match the proceeds from half-season ticket sales.
Koukash has not confirmed the size of the Red Devils’ debt but PA Sport understand the gesture from the racehorse owner to be in the region of £5million.
Salford’s fortunes have declined off the field since he announced he was handing over the club prior to the 2018 season.
Koukash also says he agreed to pay the transfer fee that would have brought St Helens playmaker Matty Smith to Salford, while he also offered to pay the full salary of Warrington outside back Matty Russell, who instead joined Toronto Wolfpack.
“I spent the best part of six years of my life there and you just can’t switch off,” Koukash explained. “I am still a fan and it pains me to see them struggling financially.
“They are vulnerable, there is no denying it, and maybe the board should have been more honest with the fans earlier in the season. The sale of Gareth O’Brien eased the financial problems but did not resolve them.”
Koukash helped Salford survive after he took charge in 2013 but ended up becoming frustrated by the club’s lack of progression off the field. Falling attendances since he left have contributed to the Red Devils’ current problems.
“The club had no debt when I left,” he said. “They had the best shirt sponsorship in the league and a good stadium agreement and all they had to do to stay viable was to maintain the crowd level of last year.
“They could have broken even on the same crowds and could have made a profit of £180,000 with an increase of only 10 to 15 per cent.
“I thought the section of support that I supposedly alienated would come back when I left but in fact the attendances have dropped by 30 per cent and that’s why the club is in financial difficulties.
“But I know that Andrew Rosler is working harder than I ever did and, although his plans will not reap immediate benefits, there is a lot of promise for the long term if they can get through this season and next.”
English earns new deal at Huddersfield
Young prop Matty English has been handed a four-year contract by Huddersfield Giants after just six senior appearances.
Front-rower English, who has been likened to England star James Graham, has signed a contract extension that will see him remain with the Giants at least until the end of 2022.
Thorman said the 20-year-old English reminded him of Graham after scoring his first try for the club to help them clinch a 24-14 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Wakefield Trinity earlier this month.
Thorman, still in temporary charge while newly-appointed head coach Simon Woolford waits in Australia for clearance, has watched English progress through the system and is excited about his prospects.
“He’s relatively local, he’s come through our scholarship and academy system so there’s a lot of positives for our club and it’s a real success story,” Thorman said.
“He’s got a great attitude. He’s got a good sense of humour, he doesn’t take himself too seriously away from the game, but when you ask him to do something on the field, he does it as well as anyone I’ve ever met.
“He’s got a really nice balance to his personality but he’s also got a really good work ethic and is very focused.”
English, who made his Betfred Super League debut at Leeds Rhinos last season, said: “I’m absolutely buzzing to have signed a new contract.
“I’ve always been at Huddersfield and it feels like home. Signing for four more years gives me the security to try to develop as much as I can to become an established Super League player.”
Warrington tie down rising star
Warrington Wolves have confirmed that utility player Harvey Livett has agreed a two-year contract extension until November 2020.
Livett, 21, made his Super League debut in 2017 and has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign this term, with NRL clubs supposedly circling for his services, according to Warrington.
“I had a few other options but I’m a Warrington lad and I always wanted to stay with the club,” Livett explained. “When I was growing up I used to go to home and away games watching the team so it means a lot to wear the shirt each week. All my family are from Warrington and it means a lot to play for my hometown club.
“I’m looking forward to the next two years and I’m confident we can win some silverware in that time. We’re looking good this year in the league and are still in the Challenge Cup so hopefully we can challenge for both this season.”
Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick said: “It is great to retain a product of our academy system. This is an area we have significantly invested in over recent years. We had to beat off NRL interest to keep Harvey at our club.
“With the current scholarship team going unbeaten this season we are confident there will be many more homegrown players progressing into the first-team in the future.”
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