Neil Leigh: Was it the right thing to do for Sale to move ground to the Salford City Stadium?
Brian Kennedy: There have been well documented problems about accessing Barton, but ultimately it was still the right thing to do in moving and there are no regrets on that score. For anything in life there is a short term, medium term and long term view and we are looking to the long term prosperity of this club and to do that you need professional facilities to attract supporters without haemorrhaging losses. In the meantime there is pain to bear and we ask the fans to put up with these difficulties while we resolve them. Once you are there its great and ultimately it will be worth it.
Its important to say now we are in a stadium with better facilities and once we sort the transport problems which will be sorted out in the course of this next season, we have the facilities to truly build to be a top Premiership side off the park as well as on it. We were always restricted at Heywood Road, and at Stockport but we have no commercial restrictions now. So if we win on the park we have the commercial facilities to grow revenues to support the infrastructure that doesn't needs shareholders' input to ensure the business is viable. That's still where we want to get too.
NL: What about the transport issues in terms of accessing the ground conveniently that have alienated many supporters. What is your message to them?
BK: The traffic and transport issues have been a nightmare and I've been caught in them myself and left fuming so I completely understand our supporters' issues and gripes. I think we have to try and delay the kick-offs as late as we can and also have a few Saturday games which we are looking to arrange where it works. And hopefully fans can find different routes as there are different routes via Warburton Bridge onto the A57. Hopefully they will be able to grin and bear it maybe leave a bit earlier and we are very hopeful that by the season after next we will have a new access bridge built and that will really ease the problems. There is no quick fix or magic bullet to this but we thank the fans for their patience. We apologise for the frustration and inconvenience and stress we are doing everything within our power to try and find solutions.
NL: Do you still retain faith and confidence in director of rugby Steve Diamond?
BK: Looking back to last season, its like anything in life, its all about team work. Sometimes you make a decision to play a midfielder at centre forward and if its not working you need to adapt and you move them back to their best position and that's one of the lessons we learned last season when Steve reverted from being CEO to taking over as director of rugby. We have a great team of coaches. I think Bryan Redpath is a first class man and first class coach as is Steve and Pete Anglesea and Mike Forshaw. Its about us putting these guys in the right positions and I think we have done that now. Steve had to step up and take it over last season working with the existing team and looking at the results in the second half of the seasons we would have finished fifth. Now I know we were desperate but it showed what Steve working with Bryan and Pete could achieve.
NL: The recruitment of players this season has been far less high profile than a year ago. Is that an indication of recruitment policy going forward?
Jonny Kennedy: The thing we have brought to the recruitment policy that we have not really had in the past is that the players have got to fit within the culture. First you get references, then you meet the players and show them around the club and ensure they fit in the culture They also have to be good enough to play for the club and with the help of the coaches they can become better.My view is that Sale is an honest club with honest fans and run by honest people and we should bring that through the recruitment policy. Within our club we already have a lot of high profile players, We have two former All Blacks, two former British Lions and guys like Danny Cipriani who is a very good player but its adding honesty to that team.
NL: Ian Blackhurst stepped in a interim CEO when Steve Diamond reverted to being director of rugby last January. Is that still the case or are you looking to appoint a new CEO?
BK: No we are not going to be appointing a CEO. In reality, Ian was never the interim CEO, he was just there trying to give it a bit of direction. The reality is that this business doesn't need a CEO. Its a tiny turnover around £8m - £5m if you take away the £3m we get from the the RFU. The main part of it is about rugby and that's where you need your professional structured management. In terms of the corporate side of things, you really need a general manager and we have a good enough board with myself, Ian, Jonny and our group financial director Adrian Kirk who has come onto the board as well. That's enough to look after the business side. The most important thing is to get the rugby right.
NL: The past two seasons have seen the same top four reach the play-offs. Is rugby union in danger of becoming like the Premier League where its the same few teams always challenging at the top?
BK: Its all about money, in particular salary caps and you can read into that what you want. The teams that spend most money on squads will generally give themselves an enormous advantage. We have seen it in France but that's business and that's life. We absolutely spend to the salary cap and we are doing so again this season but who spends beyond that? Football is trying to address that in terms of financial fair play and hopefully rugby will go the same way. I'm not going to moan as that's what money brings. I have no doubt that if I said I was gong to spend another £5m this year of our money and accept these losses, we'd go out and buy some superstars but that's not right for the club going forward. How many football clubs have we seen wither go out of business or be threatened because of that approach? No our driver is to compete at the top half of the league and to do so within the salary cap and by focusing a lot on doing what we do right with the right coaches, the right players and a good youth structure. That means we will be able to compete at the top without bankrupting the club.
NL: Realistically can Sale be competitive again and challenge for a top four place and aspire to be champions?
BK: At this time of the season you have 12 Premiership champions. Everyone thinks they are the greatest, and they are all unbeaten. Time will tell the tale as to how stronger we are, how better organised, and if we are more harmonious. I'm not going to predict where we will be but the ambition is there, the focus is there and the time and energy being put in is being expended in order to be able to compete at the top. Where we will finish only time will tell but its our objective to be back at the top and if not this year then we will try next year. All I can say is that we are doing everything we can to get us up where we belong. Its important to say now we are in a stadium with better facilities and once we sort the transport problems which will be sorted out in the course of this next season, we have the facilities to truly build to be a top Premiership side off the park as well as on it. We were always restricted at Heywood Road, and at Stockport but we have no commercial restrictions now. So if we win on the park we have the commercial facilities to grow revenues to support the infrastructure that doesn't needs shareholders imput to ensure the business is viable. That's still where we want to get to.
Sale Sharks start their 2013/14 Aviva Premiership season with an away game at Gloucester followed by back to back home games against Newcastle Falcons and London Wasps. Make sure you are part of the action - get your season ticket now! Available from just £199 Adult, £99 Junior.