Salford deny risking future with unlikely 'super casino' plans

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The Independent Online

Salford insist that their plans for a new stadium and a more prosperous future are not threatened by the change in government policy that will limit the number of "super casinos" to be built in the country.

Salford insist that their plans for a new stadium and a more prosperous future are not threatened by the change in government policy that will limit the number of "super casinos" to be built in the country.

The club hope by the end of 2006 to be in a new ground on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, to be built as part of a development incorporating a casino. But, instead of the original 40, the pilot scheme is to be limited to eight gaming centres, which means Salford could miss out.

"Our business plan is not strictly linked to the casino," said the club's chief executive, Dave Tarry. "Construction of the stadium could be financed by other parts of the development."

Salford had been promised an income of £2m a year from the scheme, but Tarry is confident that not even that is under threat. "Even without the casino, we would still be guaranteed that income," he said.

Salford already have plans for spending their new riches, including offering a three-year contract to the Australian half-back, Craig Gower, from 2006.

The former Salford coach, Andy Gregory, is poised to return to the game through the relocation of Chorley Lynx to Blackpool.

Chorley folded at the end of last season when their financial backing was withdrawn, but are set to announce a ground-share with Blackpool FC this week.

Mark Lee will continue as their coach, but Gregory, who has been out of the professional game since losing his job at The Willows in 1999, has been offered an advisory role.

Sonny Bill Williams, the New Zealand loose forward who will miss the Tri-Nations match against Great Britain on Saturday with a shoulder injury, may play for Canterbury in the World Club Challenge against Leeds in February. "I'll need some rehab but should be OK," Williams said.

The match is to be sponsored, for a five-figure sum, by Leeds Metropolitan University, through its sports faculty, Carnegie.

The Australian, Tim Mander, is to referee Saturday's match at the KC Stadium. Great Britain have not called Leeds' Mark Calderwood into their squad, which means that Brian Carney is likely to continue playing.

The Australia captain, Darren Lockyer, is expected to be fit to play against France on Sunday and prove that he has recovered sufficiently from his rib injury to play in the Tri-Nations final.

Leeds have pulled out of the race to sign Wakefield's Great Britain player, Gareth Ellis, after failing to agree personal terms.

Castleford have made their first signings since namingthe Australian David Woods as coach. The Rochdale full-back, Michael Platt, and Barrow's Damien Reed are both joining the Tigers on one-year contracts.

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