Michael Crockett

RUGBY-playing millionaire entrepreneur Brian Kennedy has bought Sale rugby club with the express aim of turning it into the most successful club in the northern hemisphere.

Kennedy, a man with no shortage of ambition, announced the move at a press conference at Heywood Road on Tuesday morning.

Accompanied by his right-hand man Ian Blackhurst, he heralded a new outlook for the North-west's only professional rugby club

Chief executive Graham Walker, who took on a failing rugby club and turned it into a saleable commodity, was also present, and he shared Kennedy's ambition, saying, "Everyone connected with the club will buy into Brian and Ian's long term vision for creating Manchester Sale Rugby club as the strongest and most successful club in the northern hemisphere."

Kennedy's business plan, formulated over the last few months, remains a closely guarded secret, but he was prepared to reveal that it was mainly based on a new commercial focus, which in turn would permit greater investment on the field.

He said, "Our investment is based on a sound business proposition. All monies generated through the new commercial focus will be reinvested on the field and in a the aademy structure, which will help put the professional arm of North-west rugby union back in its rightful position."

"We are also delighted to have the full-backing and support of the Sale Members Club, who will be assisting us in implementing our plans."

The son of an Edinburgh window-cleaner, Kennedy made his first million in his twenties and features as one of the country's richest men, but still finds time to turn out in the back row for Wilmslow on a Saturday afternoon.

His companies include the Latium Group and Genesis Communications, which is based in Old Trafford.

He anticipates that the club will be back in the black within two years and assured everyone invloved that he is not there just for the ego trip.

"Too many times you see big backers come in and support a club just for the media attention and the ego trip, but you can all rest assured that I am here for the long term," he said.

Kennedy also admitted that he was looking at a couple of changes to the club's circumstances.

"Not only are we looking at changing the time of matches we play to Friday evenings - in order to offer professional rugby to everyone in the area - we are also looking into the possibility of changing the club's name."

He went on to say, "If and when we move to a new ground, there should be no reason why we cannot build crowds at home games to 10,000 or more."

Sale's new supremo Brian Kennedy (far right) details his plans to put North-west rugby union on the global map. He is accompanied by (from left to right) Sale chief executive Graham Walker, Genesis Communications business partner Ian Blackhurst and director of rugby Adrian Hadley. Picture by Chris Sumner

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