Never heard of Salford City FC? There used to be a reason for that. The semi-professional club from Greater Manchester plays at the eighth level of the English pyramid, with its home ground (Moor Lane) holding only 1400 people. Unless you’re from the area, someone who supports a club that’s drawn them in the FA Cup, or an absolute English soccer addict, there’s no reason the Ammies should have been on your radar.
At least, there was no reason until today, because as of late evening England time, Salford City have some of the most famous owners in Greater Manchester, with a quintet of former Manchester United players having agreed to purchase the club. Pending FA approval, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, and soccer’s Neville brothers (Gary and Phil) will take over ownership of a non-league club that finished last season 192nd in the English table. The deal is expected to be completed this summer.
All five players came through the United system together in the early 90s, with some having direct links to Salford City. Ryan Giggs, who moved to Salford from Wales as a six-year-old, considers his hometown club:
“Everyone knows how important Salford is to me, so this is an exciting acquisition that is right at the heart of what we all believe in,” said Giggs, according to ITV.
Gary Neville, who enjoyed a 19-year career with United, also has a personal connection to Salford.
“I had my first trial for Manchester United in Salford at age 11,” Neville said, “and I will never forget how important that was to me.”
Beyond those personal connections, the importance of developing young talent was cited as a motivation by both Giggs and Phil Neville.
“It is important to safeguard the hard work that is done in the lower leagues,” Neville explained, “and it is going to be exciting to be able to feed our experience into the young players.”
ITV has more (and ongoing) coverage of a story broken by its own Ian Payne, one which already has Salford fans excited about their new future:
Absolutely thrilled for @salfordcityfc and everyone involved!!! Hope to see some new fans down at Moor Lane very soon :-)—
Laura Flint (@laurakflint) March 27, 2014