Trafford pulls support for Sale Sharks homecoming

The rugby union team’s plans to move back to the town after relocating in 2003 have been dealt a blow after Trafford Council withdrew its pre-planning support for the construction of a stadium at Crossford Bridge playing fields. 

Developer Crossfield Futures launched a public consultation in June on a proposal to redevelop the site between Cross Street and the Bridgewater Canal next to the M60, into a sports village featuring a 10,000-capacity stadium. 

However, following public feedback – including a petition against the proposals signed by more than 4,000 people – the council has decided to withdraw its support for the project. 

The club, which had been hoping to lodge a planning application later this year, said it was “disappointed by the political decision”. 

Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said: “The council, along with Sale Sharks and Crossford Futures, approached the pre-planning application consultation for the project with the shared aim of listening closely to the local community. 

“Following the initial phase of consultation, we have taken the decision not to support the proposal. We share with Sale Sharks a desire to see them back in Sale in the future if a suitable site can be found.” 

Simon Orange, owner of Sale Sharks, said: “Our shared vision was to create a multi-sports community hub to inspire future generations and positively impact Sale through additional health, education and social inclusion programmes.

“We have made no secret that our long-held ambition is to return our elite men’s and women’s teams to our hometown of Sale, and further strengthen our community ties. Although disappointed by this political decision in the short term, we look forward to delivering a solution in future that puts our great fanbase and city region at the heart of it.” 

As well as the stadium, the Crossford Bridge Community Sports Village would have included a floodlit 4G pitch, a running track, grass pitches, community pavilion and children’s activity centre. 

Sharks moved from Heywood Road in Sale to Edgeley Park in Stockport in 2003, where the club shared the stadium with Stockport County FC. 

In 2012, the club relocated again, this time to the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, which it currently shares with Super League side Salford City Reds. 

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