Salford Red Devils have announced a new reserve grade dual-registration with Betfred Championship side Swinton Lions, with Gerrard’s of Swinton taking the position of main sponsor for the side.
Salford Red Devils director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “We’re really pleased to have Gerrard’s onboard, as we bolster our reserves setup through local partnerships and also the incorporation of Swinton Lions within our reserves structure.
“It’s our responsibility as the area’s Super League club, to ensure there is a complete pathway in place for local talent and prospects to play at a professional level and ultimately in Super League for Salford Red Devils.
“I am really thankful to Steve Wild and Stuart Littler from Swinton Lions for their cooperation on the reserves dual registration and look forward to working together on developing stars of the future, and also to Gerrard’s managing director Seb Gerrard for his sponsorship in this new venture.
“This reserves setup will provide more opportunity for players from across Salford and the Greater Manchester area to play at a professional level and that is a key part of my strategy for the game’s growth within our club and the region as a whole.
“Players will therefore be developed, under our clubs badge and will then be capable of making an impression in the Betfred Super League and Betfred Championship over time.”
Salford Red Devils and Swinton Lions head coaches Ian Watson and Stuart Littler both represented the two clubs as players, as did Ian Blease, with Watson previously coaching the Championship side.
Swinton Lions operations director Steve Wild said: “It’s no secret that we don’t currently possess the resources to run our own Reserves team, so from a Swinton Lions perspective this joint project with Salford represents a tremendous opportunity.
”I’d like to thank Ian Blease, Ian Watson and Danny Barton for being so open to the concept and making it happen, as it helps Swinton Lions tremendously in terms of player development, as well as our ability to trial players.
“I firmly believe that in the best interests of Rugby League in the Salford, Swinton and Manchester area, it can only be a good thing to be working collaboratively with our historic neighbours.”
The partnership means Lions players will be eligible to compete in fixtures for head of youth & reserve team head coach Danny Barton’s side, which has already handed professional contacts to three young players to have come through the Red Devils’ setup.
Gerrard’s of Swinton managing director Sebastian Gerrard said: “We’re proud to partner with this team for its first season.
“As a long established business in the local community, the potential we discussed with Ian (Blease), for this side to give opportunities to talented players from the area was really exciting.
“Over the years, we have employed many rugby league players from the city, so this partnership adds to our tradition and history within the sport.”
Swinton Lions Head Coach Stuart Littler said “It’s outstanding news for the Lions to be collaborating with Salford Red Devils in respect of a Reserves team, and a big thanks goes to everyone involved at both clubs for getting it up and running.
“The Reserves programme will give us another platform in which we can develop our players. Over the last few years, we have had a few lads who haven’t quite made our matchday squad, who have then had nowhere to play and develop.
“Every Rugby League player wants to be out on the pitch, so we are delighted to have this new opportunity.”