Marwan Koukash: Former Salford Red Devils owner aims to return to rugby league with Leigh

Marwan Koukash and Derek Beaumont
Marwan Koukash (left) and Derek Beaumont were friends as well as rival owners while the former was at Salford

Former Salford owner Marwan Koukash is keen to reinvest in rugby league and says he is hopeful of teaming up with Derek Beaumont at Leigh Centurions.

The businessman and racehorse owner handed over control of Salford to a community trust in 2017, four years after stepping in to save the club.

Beaumont owns Super League side Leigh, beginning a second stint there in 2013.

“I miss the involvement in rugby league,” Koukash told BBC Radio Manchester.

“It’s in my blood, I’m hooked on it and I would love to get involved again. I know for sure I will never get involved with Salford for various reasons.

“But I have a special love for Leigh and maybe one day I might be joining Derek [Beaumont].”

Koukash’s time at Salford was a mixed bag, as large sums were spent but the returns on his investment were a best pre-Super 8s finish of fourth place in Super League and reaching a Challenge Cup semi-final.

The Red Devils were even 80 minutes away from relegation and only a remarkable late fightback, capped by Gareth O’Brien’s golden-point drop goal, in 2016’s Million Pound Game kept them in the top flight.

Star signings such as New Zealand full-back Kevin Locke, former England enforcer Adrian Morley and maverick half-back Rangi Chase created headlines, but did not translate to success.

Rangi Chase.
Rangi Chase scored 15 tries in 42 games for Salford but they finished 10th and 11th in his two seasons with the club

However, the Palestine-born millionaire feels he is older and wiser in the sport, and has learned from those mistakes – enough to want to team up with Beaumont.

The pair were friends as well as often verbal sparring partners in the media, and even embarked on a charity weight-loss challenge in 2017 – which ended in a draw.

“Will Derek have me? If Derek will have me, then it’s very, very likely. Nine out of 10,” Koukash added.

“The game is fantastic, I enjoyed my involvement in rugby league. I’ve not always made the right decisions and that’s due to my inexperience.

“I’ve learned a lot since then, I’d love to get back in the game and I would love to be involved with Derek.”

Rugby league is currently at a crucial point in terms of television rights negotiations and the future of the sport, with an expected downturn in funding from the broadcast deal which is its largest contribution.

Attracting investment is a challenge for all clubs, as the central payments look set to shrink over the coming seasons.

“The majority of clubs, Super League clubs, are looking out there for investment,” Koukash continued.

“When I got involved in rugby league [with Salford] I didn’t just come to take part, I invested large sums of money.

“And that kind of money – if I had to invest it again now knowing what I do about the sport, with the experience and what I learned, I’m sure I would make a very positive contribution.

“Many clubs have approached me, we’ve talked about the possibility of joining them. Some are in the Championship and some are in Super League.

“The door is open for me to join a number of clubs but I would love to be involved with Derek [and Leigh].”

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