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New future for Swinton Lions with 7.3-acre Agecroft stadium land deal

Swinton Lions will be playing home games in their home town for the first time in years, after signing a lease on a 7.3-acre site in Agecroft where a new stadium will be built.

The club now has up to three years to complete the community stadium.

Plans have been mooted since 2006 but the Lions lacked the finances to complete on the deal.

It puts an end to the speculative plan by Salford Red Devils owner Marwan Koukash to build a 3,000-seater stadium in the middle of Swinton for the Championship club.

Read: Koukash gets Lions hearts beating with Swinton stadium offer

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The club have been playing all over the North West since selling off Station Road in 1992.

Swinton Lions Chief Executive Steve Wild said, “Like all other Swinton fans, it remains my dream to see the Lions playing back in Swinton where they belong.

Agecroft - Google Satellite

Agecroft – Google Satellite

“Our 150th Anniversary this year serves to reinforce the importance of the heritage of this famous club, and for the Lions to have been unable to play in the town for the past 24 years is a tragedy which has arguably cost us a generation of potential fans.

“But the construction of this facility, will not only have Swinton playing back in Swinton, but it will also place the club at the heart of the community, both in sporting and non-sporting terms.

“This is not about the history of the club, it’s about the viability of a long-term and prosperous future.

“It’s an incredibly exciting project, which will help re-galvanise the local population behind the club, and consolidate our position in the higher reaches of the sport where we belong.”

Wild said a number of meetings with top Salford council chiefs had been “extremely positive” and the club looked at the land deal as a “clear message of intent”.

Also announced today is the news that Swinton will be playing their home games at Sale RUFC’s 1,200-seater home of Heywood Road for the remainder of 2016.

Currently the Lions are playing from Sedgley Tigers’ ground of Sedgley Park in Prestwich.

Swinton will play their first match in their new temporary home against Featherstone Rovers on Sunday 13 March, kick-off 3pm.

Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart pledged both his personal support and that of the council for the “landmark proposal” to secure the long-term future of the club.

Head Coach John Duffy said the move was vital to bring about a more settled feeling among his players.

“This season we’ve not really enjoyed home advantage yet, but hopefully we can make Heywood Road a difficult place for our visitors.

“It’s a nice wide pitch which will suit the expansive way we set up, and the facilities there are excellent.

“Myself and the players would urge our fans to back us there in numbers and make it an intimidating ground for the opposition.”

Steve Wild added that “a final nice touch is that because Sale also play in blue, the ground is already decked out in Swinton’s club colours”.

Heywood Road is an excellent venue, with over 1,200 seats, a covered standing paddock, and well-appointed corporate and bar areas.

The move brings together at the same venue two of the most historic rugby clubs in the world, sharing more than 300 years of history.

Swinton supporters are also invited to attend an open evening at Heywood Road on Wednesday 9 March starting at 7pm.

Admission will be by ticket only, available from the club, and free transport will also be laid on from the White Lion leaving at 6pm.

Email Abbi on abbi.roddy@swintonlionsrlfc.com to reserve your place.

This will give fans the opportunity to have a look around the ground, and take advantage of a Q&A session with representatives of both Swinton Lions and Sale FC. Free refreshments will also be served on the night.

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Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.