Rugby League: Salford close to realising Super dream

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The Independent Online
Andy Gregory and his Salford Reds are set to realise their Super League dream. They need just one point from their last three games to make sure of another First Division championship, and they will do that tomorrow if they avoid defeat at home to the second-placed Keighley Cougars.

While Keighley and several other First Division clubs are applying to be fast-tracked into the top flight, Salford have left no doubt as to their credentials to join the big boys. The Reds finished top of the First Division in the centenary season, but the Rugby Football League had already stated there would be no promotion at the end of that last winter campaign.

So Salford did not go up and their coach Gregory, the former Great Britain stalwart, said: "That was possibly one of the biggest disappointments of my career as a player and as a coach. But I couldn't show the players I was upset. When you're a player you can show your emotions but, as a coach, if I was to let my head go down, it would have affected the players as well.

"This will make up for that disappointment if we do it this time, and it's in our hands now. I know Keighley will be coming to try to spoil the party, " Gregory added. "I know we've got a bit of rebuilding to do for Super League. I've got to make sure that, once we are in Super League, we'll stay there."

The relegation places from the First Division could also be decided this weekend, with Batley and Rochdale likely to drop.

Ambitious Keighley Cougars are considering a change of ground and name as they aim for the Super League next season. The First Division outfit, who seem certain to miss out on the one automatic promotion place, could move in with Burnley FC and play their first-team games at Turf Moor to achieve their dream. If that happened, they would look at the possibility of becoming the Pennine Cougars to coincide with the switch of venues.

Keighley's plan was put to the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, Maurice Lindsay, in a meeting at the sport's headquarters in Leeds. The Cougars chief executive, Kevan Halliday-Brown, confirmed yesterday: "We want to make a submission for fast-tracking, but we are not going to be able to bring this club up to the standard required in 'Framing the Future'.

"That's the initial problem, so as we are unable to secure freehold ownership of this ground here, we have to consider playing our first-team games somewhere else.

"An alternative proposal was put to Maurice Lindsay, suggesting that we retain Cougar Park as our administrative headquarters and develop it as a sort of centre of excellence for youth development. We would play A-team and Academy games here, with our Super League games being played at an alternative venue, possibly Turf Moor.

"Burnley have excellent facilities and, if we can get permission to play our games there, we feel there is a possibility of attracting probably the biggest attendance in Super League.

"The current capacity at Cougar Park falls slightly below the minimum required, which is 10,000, and we've got an old stand which doesn't provide enough seats or enough cover."