Sale Sharks CEO Mick Hogan spoke exclusively to MM about how he is looking forward to building on the success of staging fixtures away from their Edgeley Park base.
Last season, the Aviva Premiership side played London Irish at Bolton Wanderer’s Reebok Stadium, mirroring London-based clubs such as Harlequins and Saracens, who have staged league games at Twickenham and Wembley alike.
And although the Exiles went away with a 20-34 win, a record crowd of 16,428 meant it was a successful day for the Sharks – one which Hogan hopes to repeat over the years to come.
He said: “We looked at what Harlequins and Saracens have done, and in France at Toulon and Stade Francais, who moved games to bigger stadiums and made an event out of it.
“Yes, you’re going to want your weekly attendance growing at Edgeley Park but you also want to put on big events and bring in new sponsors, new corporate guests and new supporters and people are attracted by that.
“You’re not going to have something where someone goes from nothing to a season ticket-holder, that’s very rare.
“You’ve got to spark that interest out of the ordinary and that’s what rugby at the Reebok last year did.”
Hogan – who joined the club from Rugby League side Wigan Warriors in 2010 – confirmed that this year’s Reebok venture had not yet been set due to clashes in the fixture list between football and rugby union.
But he hopes that the Sharks will be able to use the Reebok agreement for a match-up against some of the Premiership’s elite – a group that Sale wants to return to.
“We’ve got a three-year agreement with the Reebok to stage a game a year – one last year and then the next two seasons,” said Hogan.
“We’ve got to make sure the game is the right time and the right opponent. The fixture list hasn’t been overly kind to us.
“It’s not so much that we can’t do it against the big sides but more that we seem to be at home when Bolton are at home.
”We did speak to them but they only have so much pull with the Premier League and we have only so many requests with Premiership Rugby.
“We’ve tried our best so we’re looking at a couple of options and if they’re the right time and the right opponents.”
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