Salford Mayor and Swinton chairman make their cases

Salford mayor Paul Dennett and Swinton chairman Andy Mazey have exchanged views on the subject of the club’s proposed re-brand as Manchester.

The Lions recently announced plans to become Manchester Lions from 2020, while retaining the name Swinton on the badge.

But in an open letter to Mazey issued on social media, City Mayor of Salford Dennett has expressed his concerns regarding the changes, criticising an alleged lack of fan consultation, emphasising the club’s value to the community and reminding Mazey of the backing his club has received from the Council.

The letter says: “In addition to my own concerns about this move as Salford’s City Mayor, I have also noted widespread dissatisfaction amongst fans regarding this proposal, particularly given the lack of fan consultation over the decision.

“Swinton Lions are a historic club with long-standing connections to the people of Salford and Swinton.

“The club is a fixture of the cultural and sporting heritage of our city and I firmly believe that a name change excluding Swinton and Salford will do serious damage to that heritage — both in the eyes of current fans and subsequently to the club’s own economic prospects.

“I would suggest that in respect of Local Authorities, further discussions are yet to be had with Salford City Council and I would politely note that the Council’s recently agreed loan of £60,000 in 2017 is an indication of our willingness to work with the club to assist where possible (within the imposed constraints of government austerity and local government cuts) and find solutions that would work.

“However, despite the City Council’s willingness to work with the club I’m not aware that there has been any invitation to myself as City Mayor, to Councillors nor City Council officers to discuss with stakeholders avenues through which to search for potential alternatives for the club’s future.

“As you will be aware, the Town Hall recently celebrated Swinton Lions Rugby Club’s 150th anniversary in Salford by flying the club’s flag; this was not merely an empty, symbolic gesture but a genuine recognition of the importance which this club has for so many of our residents.

“We fully support the club’s success but as a team which continues to represent the community of fans, the township of Swinton and the City of Salford’s proud long-standing sporting heritage.

“Swinton and Pendlebury Labour Party branches sponsor Swinton player Matty Ashton, such is the strength of feeling for the team.

“As custodians of the club, it is my belief that the board must listen to its fans. I firmly believe that the decision to rename the club the Manchester Lions is a regressive move, and one which could damage this amazing institution in years to come.”

The letter is signed by the Mayor and the Councillors of Swinton and Pendlebury.

Mazey responded to the letter and challenged the Council to map a route for the club to return to Swinton.

“Once I have spoken with the board, we shall respond formally to your communication.

“I wouldn’t normally do this publicly but seeing as you have brought it onto social media with my name on it I will accept my right of reply without prejudice.

“The only way this Club can exist (I won’t necessarily say be successful) as Swinton Lions is by playing in Swinton.

“If you are willing to talk to us seriously on that point we’d be willing to listen to your plans to give the club you clearly care deeply about a home back in its town.

“Just to note every single penny to date has been met of the loan with interest.

“We appreciate the concern and can only hope this may be a catalyst for you to seriously endeavour to facilitate a return to Swinton after 27 years.

“I look forward to hearing your plans on this matter.”