Would Failure in the ‘Middle Eights’ Spell the End for Koukash as Salford Owner?
With no return on his outgoings, would Super League relegation see Marwan Koukash walk away from Salford?
‘I have had enough’ was the infamous tweet posted by Salford Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash on social media back in February following his side’s 52-6 drubbing at home to St Helens.
While the message implied Koukash was ready to walk away from the club back in round two, he has since been the focal voice of the club off the field in what has turned out to be another frustrating season for the Red Devils.
It is fair to say that the ‘Devilution’ has not gone to plan.
Having taken over at the end of 2013 with the side finishing bottom that campaign, there was a renewed optimism around the club with the top clubs in Super League looking over their shoulder at how Salford’s new look side would fare.
There were 14 new players signed in 2014, most notably former Man of Steel Rangi Chase and New Zealand international Kevin Locke, who joined halfway through the campaign.
Some pundits tipped Salford last season to be making the short trip across the city to Old Trafford, but their season of transition saw them finish 10th and miss out on the play-offs.
Success does not come overnight, particularly in Super League which boasts as being one of the tightest club competitions in any sport worldwide.
This season finishing in the top-eight would have been the priority for Salford, with a settled side as well as a few additional new faces.
Another disappointing campaign has followed however, with last Friday’s 70-6 away defeat to Leeds sealing the Red Devils’ place in the middle-eights.
Injuries and suspensions have not helped the team’s cause this year, with the club even requesting for their game against Hull FC at the end of April to be postponed due to their mounting injury crisis.
Results have not gone their way however and now the club enters the second stage of the season fighting for Super League survival rather than Grand Final glory.
The middle-eights will pose a threat for Salford’s Super League status, with both Leigh and Bradford both looking capable of gaining a spot in the elite competition next season.
Should one or more Championship side be promoted it would see a Super League side go the other way and on current form, it is the Red Devils you fear for the most.
Wakefield may have only won one game under Brian Smith but since he took over they have looked a rejuvenated side and look set to put up a defiant fight in the middle-eights.
Hull KR have underperformed in some matches but in others have lit the competition up with some exciting rugby league, and while Widnes have lost more than they have won they have not been too far behind in those defeats.
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott was quick to criticise Koukash’s off the field handling of the club and has pointed the finger at the Salford owner for the team not making the top-eight.
Koukash has brought in Australia head coach Tim Sheens as director of rugby and has also done his best to boost attendances by cutting ticket prices as well as making the home game against Catalans this season free for spectators.
Time will tell how Salford fare in the middle-eights but should they end up in the Championship in 2016 you wonder whether Koukash really will have had enough.