AJ Bell Stadium

AJ Bell Stadium
AJ Bell Stadium
Full name AJ Bell Stadium
Former names Salford City Stadium
Location 1 Stadium Way
M30 7EY
Coordinates 53°28′10″N 2°22′30″W / 53.46944°N 2.37500°W / 53.46944; -2.37500Coordinates: 53°28′10″N 2°22′30″W / 53.46944°N 2.37500°W / 53.46944; -2.37500
Owner City of Salford Community Stadium Ltd.
Executive suites 12 20-person hospitality boxes and 1 banqueting suite (up to 750)
Capacity 12,000[1]
Record attendance 11,247 (Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers) 27 December 2014[2]
Field size 122m x 86m
Surface Grass
Scoreboard Electronic
Built 2010–11
Opened 2012
Construction cost £26 million[1]
Architect AFL Architects
Structural engineer SKM
Main contractors Buckingham Group[3]
Rugby League
Salford Red Devils (2012–)
Rugby Union
Sale Sharks (2012–)
Manchester United FC Reserves (2013–14)
American Football
Manchester Titans (2014)

Salford City Stadium (referred to as the AJ Bell Stadium for sponsorship purposes)[4][5] is a rugby stadium in Barton-upon-Irwell, Salford, England,[6] built to replace Salford rugby league club's ground the Willows for the 2012 season. Sale Sharks rugby union club have also played at the stadium since the 2012–13 season.

Development and financing

In 2005, Salford City Council approved plans for the Reds to move from the Willows to the brownfield site at Barton.[7]

The stadium was originally to be developed by Red City Developments, with construction to be complete for the start of the 2009 season.[8] However, RCD went into administration in July 2008.[9]

Salford City Council formed a joint venture company with Peel Group[1] to develop and deliver the £16 million stadium,[3] which is part of the a £26 million development[3] close to the Manchester Ship Canal and the M60 motorway.

Planning permission was granted in March 2010 for a 15,000-capacity stadium.[10]

Sale Sharks confirmed their move to the stadium in April 2012,[11] signing a 25-year lease.[12]

In 2013, Peel Group and Salford City Council each lent £600,000 in emergency funding to the stadium. The council is still owed £20 million for building the stadium, and is already owed £1.5m by the Salford City Reds who play at the stadium.[13]

In 2014, SCC and Peel lent a further £410,724 to the stadium.[14]

AJ Bell Stadium

On 13 September 2013, it was announced that investment platform AJ Bell had secured a nine-year stadium naming rights partnership with Sale Sharks Rugby Club. The deal saw Salford City Stadium re-branded and renamed AJ Bell Stadium.


Initially, the stadium can accommodate a 12,000 crowd, but could be extended to hold up to 20,000 spectators.[3] The stadium has areas designated for standing supporters. This partial-standing design is similar to the Halliwell Jones Stadium, home of Warrington RLFC.

There are four stands:

  • West Stand (main stand) including changing rooms, media centre, hospitality boxes, banqueting suite; capacity 4,500
  • Wooden Spoon Stand (North) – all-standing, usually the away end; capacity 2,500
  • Printerland.co.uk Stand (East) - all seating, capacity 2,500
  • UKFast Stand (South/THE SHED)– all-standing, home to hardcore Reds fans; identical to the North Stand, capacity 2,500

The seats in the West and East Stands are red (for Salford) and blue (for Sale).

The development also includes offices, player facilities, concessions, community resources and two community outdoor sport pitches, a gym and the club shop which is shared by both the Red Devils and the Sharks.


Rugby league

The Reds played their first league game at the new stadium against Castleford on 4 February 2012; Castleford won 10–24.[15]

The 2012 Challenge Cup Semi Final was held at the stadium on 15 July 2012 – Warrington beat Huddersfield 33–6.[16]

The 2012 Autumn International Series Final took place at the stadium on 11 November 2012, attendance was 7,921.[17]

On 7 November 2013 the stadium hosted the Rugby League World Cup match between Scotland and USA. A crowd of 6,041 watched Scotland beat the USA 22 – 8.[18]


List of test and International tournament matches played at AJ Bell Stadium since its opening in 2012.[19]

111 November 2012England  def.  France 48–47,9212012 Autumn International Series Final
27 November 2013Scotland  def.  United States 22–86,041Played as part of the 2013 World Cup

Rugby union

Sale Sharks' first game at the stadium was a friendly on 24 August 2012 against Leinster Rugby, which ended 10–10.[20] Their first competitive game was against Saracens on 8 September 2012. The score was Sale 16–23 Saracens and the attendance was 7,451.

The stadium served as one of the two venues for the 2016 World Rugby Under 20 Championship.[21] England beat Ireland 45-21 in the final at the stadium.

Other sports

American football

Manchester Titans American Football Club held a trial game at the Stadium against Crewe Railroaders on 1 June 2014. It was stated that they could hold future fixtures inside the stadium if the trial was successful.[22] The Titans beat the Railroaders 69–0 and the attendance was 1,349.[23]

Association football

For the 2013–14 season, Manchester United have announced their under-21 team will be playing all their home games at the stadium.[24]

The stadium also hosted England women's Euro 2013 qualifying match against the Netherlands on 17 June 2012.[25][26]


Salford Red Devils
Sale Sharks
League Fixtures Average Attendance Highest Lowest League Fixtures Average Attendance Highest Lowest
2012 Super League 12[lower-alpha 1] 4,442 6,891 2,380 2012–13 Premiership 11 6,291 8,783 4,307
2013 Super League 13 3,125 5,383 1,989 2013–14 Premiership 11 6,350 10,092 5,372
2014 Super League 13 4,738 7,102 2,903 2014–15 Premiership 11 6,660 11,247 4,753
2015 Super League 11 4,167 6,561 1,972 2015–16 Premiership 11 6,152 7,687 4,236
2016 Super League 11 3,625 5,089 1,958 2016–17 Premiership 11 6,202 8,828 4,299
2017 Super League 11 4,480 6,527 2,678 2017-18 Premiership 9 5,794 7,242 4,510
2018 Super League 3 3,806 5,568 2,902


  1. Salford's last home fixture was played at Leigh Sports Village due to a fixture clash with co-tenants Sale Sharks.[27]


  1. 1 2 3 "Stadium Contracts Signed At Barton". Salford City Reds. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  2. "Premiership: Sale Sharks 30–32 Leicester Tigers". BBC.co.uk. BBC Sport. 27 December 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Buckingham Group wins the Design and Build Contract for the City of Salford Community Stadium". Buckingham Group Contracting. Archived from the original on 17 January 2011.
  4. "Salford City Stadium renamed as AJ Bell Stadium". www.salfordcitystadium.com. 13 September 2013. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  5. "AJ Bell Stadium: Salford City Stadium renamed in sponsor deal". BBC Sport. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  6. "New name for Salford's stadium". Salford City Council. 9 September 2011. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  7. "Council hand Reds stadium boost". BBC Sport. 17 November 2005.
  8. Howard, Tony (2 June 2007). "Reds' stadium doubt". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media.
  9. Barry, Chris (25 July 2008). "Reds' stadium firm collapse". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media.
  10. "New rugby league stadium in Salford approved". BBC News. 10 March 2010.
  11. Leigh, Neil (4 April 2012). "Steve Diamond: Sale are to switch from Stockport to Barton at the end of the season". Manchester Evening News. M.E.N. Media.
  12. "Sale seal deal to play at new Salford City stadium from next season". dailymail.co.uk. 4 April 2012.
  13. "Council defends £600k loan to bailout sports stadium". itv.com. 10 May 2013.
  14. City of Salford Stadium given another £200k bailout - Manchester Evening News
  15. "Salford City Reds 10–24 Castleford". BBC Sport. 4 February 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  16. Wilson, Andy (15 July 2012). "Lee Briers' mastery pilots Warrington to Wembley sequel with Leeds". The Guardian. London.
  17. "Ryan Hall ran in four tries as England easily overpowered France 48–4". skysports.com. 11 November 2012. Archived from the original on 4 April 2013.
  18. "The 2013 Rugby League World Cup Match Report for Scotland vs USA". RLIF. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  19. "AJ Bell Stadium". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  20. "Sale Sharks 10 – Leinster Rugby 10". salesharks.com. 25 August 2012. Archived from the original on 30 November 2012.
  21. "England to host World Rugby U20 Championship 2016" (Press release). World Rugby. 16 June 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  22. "Manchester Titans set for Stadium Move". Double Coverage. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  23. Manchester Titans, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  24. "Key opener at new venue". Manchester United F.C. 19 August 2013.
  25. "England women set for must-win clash against the Netherlands". BBC Sport. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  26. Leighton, Tony (17 June 2012). "Rachel Yankey goal gives England women narrow victory over Holland". The Guardian. London.
  27. "Salford City Reds switch venue after Sale Sharks clash". BBC Sport. 4 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
Preceded by
The Willows
Salford Red Devils
home ground

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Edgeley Park
Sale Sharks
home ground

Succeeded by
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