Sale Sharks - AJ Bell Stadium
Image: Sale fan James Mooney
Sale football club was founded in 1861 (the current name was adopted in 1999), making them one of the oldest clubs in England. The club compete in the English Premiership, the Anglo-Welsh Cup and the European Cup / Challenge Cup. Throughout their long history Sale have continually been challenging for honours, and continue to fly the flag for rugby union in the North West today - today they are the only side from the rugby league-mad region in the Premiership following the relegation of Leeds in 2011. The Sharks moved homes in 2012 to the AJ Bell Stadium, where they ground share with rugby league side Salford City Reds.
Ground Information Back to Top ^
The AJ Bell Stadium is one the most modern stadiums in
rugby union, only opening in 2012 after a £26million construction job.
It was originally known as the Salford City Stadium, with the name
changing in 2013 following a sponsorship deal. The 12,000 capacity
ground is located 8 miles from Manchester City
Centre, and 5 miles from the town of Sale.
The main all-seater stand is the West Stand, that in addition to 4,500 fully-covered seats is also home to the executive boxes, TV gantry and disabled access. Sitting opposite is the East Stand, a smaller (2,500 capacity) covered all-seater stand. Behind the goal posts lie the North and South stands, with each offering 2,500 spectators covered standing space. As with most modern stadia, there are no obstructing pillars on any of the stands, so you are guaranteed a good view of the action.
View from the South
Stand, with the East Stand on the Right
Image: Sale fan James Mooney
Getting There Back to Top ^
The ground is conveniently located for drivers, less than 500m from Junction 11 of the M60. There is parking for over 600 cars on site, with a £5 charge, with additional temporary car parking in place on match days. If you find that this is full, you can also park a short walk away at Manchester City Airport (M30 7SA) and Salford City Academy (M30 7PQ).
nearest train station is Patricroft, 1.5 miles from the ground and a
10-minute journey from Manchester Piccadilly station. Note there is no
service on a Sunday to this station.
Manchester Piccadilly is well connected to the other major cities in the UK, with direct services operating to Birmingham (90 minutes), Bristol (180 minutes), Cardiff (190 minutes), Edinburgh (200 minutes), Glasgow (200 minutes), Leeds (55 minutes), Liverpool (50 minutes), London Euston (130 minutes) and York (90 minutes).
Manchester, the number 67 bus operates a regular service to Liverpool
Road, 2 mins walk from the stadium. The bus departs from Victoria
Station and Deansgate amongst others - full details here.
Although the Manchester area is blessed with an extensive tram network, it doesn't particularly serve the stadium. The nearest tram stop is Eccles, quite a long walk from the ground or you can pick up the 67 bus from there to complete your journey.
Manchester Airport is 11
miles from the stadium, and is the UK's largest outside of London.
Flights operate to most destinations within Europe and abroad, with
rugby-friendly schedules to destinations including Belfast (City
& International), Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow,
London (Heathrow), Newport, Shannon, Rome (Fiumicino), Southampton,
Paris (CDG), Venice (Marco Polo), Verona.
If you are staying in Manchester City Centre, there is a direct rail service to Piccadilly station in town. If however you are staying in the area around the ground you are best to take a taxi.
Alternative airports include Liverpool (35 miles to the West), Leeds-Bradford (45 miles North-East), and Birmingham International (95 miles South but only 110 minutes by direct train to Manchester).
Drinking Back to Top ^
There is a fan's bar within the stadium that usually has some entertainment on to accompany your pint-supping before and after the game.
Before/After the Game
Although a modern stadium with good facilities, where the stadium really falls down is in its location. It's well connected to the motorway network, but there aren't many pubs or restaurants to speak of in the vicinity of the ground. Your best bet is to head into Manchester where there are plenty of places to eat and drink.
Image - Sale fan James Mooney
Eating Back to Top ^
Sleeping Back to Top ^The City Centre of Manchester has plenty of accommodation for visitors. If you're looking to stay near the ground however, here are a few options;
- The Trafford Centre shopping complex has a Premier Inn and Travelodge on site.
- Novotel Manchester West is a few miles North at Junction 13 of the M60.
- The town of Sale itself is only 5 miles from the stadium,
where you'll find the Oakfield Court Apartment Hotel , Lennox
Lea Hotel and Eskdale Lodge Hotel.
- The Clayton Hotel at Manchester Airport is about 7 miles from the ground.
- Salford Quays is 5 miles from the ground and following huge regeneration is a nice spot to base yourself when in the area. There are branches of the Premier Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Ramada, Ibis and Copthorne chains in the area. You can get great deals on a weekend but given the proximity to Old Trafford (home of Manchester United FC), prices may vary depending on their fixture schedule.
Image: Sale fan James Mooney
Make a Trip of It Back to Top ^In Town
Manchester is a great city that offers plenty for visitors. Whether it's nightlife, culture, music or more sport (football, rugby league and cricket are all big in these parts), you'll find what you are after here. Wikitravel's page on Manchester offers a pretty comprehensive guide to the city.
The massive shopping and leisure complex the Trafford Centre is 2 miles from the Salford City Stadium.
Off the Beaten Path
- If you are
looking for countryside and beauty, head East to the Peak District or
North to the Lake District - two of the most beautiful National Parks
you are likely to find.
- Get a taste
of the traditional British seaside resort in Blackpool, 80 minutes by
train from Piccadily station.
- The city of Liverpool is only 50 minutes by rail from Piccadilly station, and is well worth a visit in it's own right. Extensively regenerated in recent years, the home of the Beatles was European Capital of Culture in 2008.
1 Stadium Way
- Fan's Forum
- The AJ Stadium
has a massive car park, so there are
plenty of disabled parking spaces on offer near to the entrances, and
there is a drop-off point at the West Stand.
- The ground has been designed with disabled access in mind, and there is level or sloped access to all stands, dedicated wheelchair areas in all four stands with lifts to access the high level seating.
The Trophy Cabinet
- In the professional era, Sale's first two trophies came in
the form of the European Challenge Cup, with final victories over
Pontypridd in 2002 and Pau in 2005
- Things got even better the following season, when the Sharks finished top of the Premiership table and won the play-off final 45-20 at Twickenham over Leicester Tigers.
- Despite a few relegation scares, the club have managed each year to maintain their Premiership status since 1994.
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