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Ian Watson hopes march to Grand Final will help sustain Salford in future
Watson has turned the Red Devils from relegation candidates into title contenders on the second lowest budget in Super League.
Salford coach Ian Watson is hoping his team’s march to a maiden Grand Final will help sustain the club in the future.
Watson has turned the Red Devils from relegation candidates into title contenders on the second lowest budget in Super League but the club could pocket around £250,000 in prize money and spin-offs if they beat St Helens on Saturday.
The finalists will not benefit directly from Saturday’s gate at Old Trafford, with receipts going into a central pot for distribution among all 12 clubs, but Watson is hoping Salford’s new-found support will stay with them.
The Red Devils had a following of over 4,500 – well above their average home crowd – at Wigan for last Friday’s final eliminator and expect to easily double that at Old Trafford.
The club are so confident of selling their initial allocation of 8,000 tickets, having sold almost 6,000 on the first day, that they have asked for more, to the delight of Watson.
“If we can keep hold of say an extra 1,000 of them, it will increase our revenue which means we might be able to work towards full salary cap,” Watson said at the Grand Final press conference at Old Trafford.
“That obviously means we’ll be able to bring in more quality players to make sure we sustain where we’re at at this level.”
Watson, who was not born when Salford last won the league title in 1976, estimates “nine or 10 players” will be leaving the club at the end of the season, including Wigan-bound duo Jackson Hastings and Jake Bibby, but he has a number of replacements lined up.
Salford co-captain Lee Mossop says the team are confident of being able to provide a fitting send-off for the departing players.
“Like a lot of teams, we’ve got a few players leaving at the end of the season and we’re fully focused on sending them out on a high,” Mossop said at the press conference.
“We’ve been riding a wave for the last two or three months, we’ve got a lot of momentum behind us and the Salford club is a very good place to be at the minute. Everyone is buzzing, the fans, the town everybody.”
St Helens, too, have extra motivation to claim a sixth Grand Final victory with popular coach Justin Holbrook in charge of his last match ahead of his return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans.
Saints captain James Roby said: “Justin leaving adds another motive for us.
“What he’s done for us as a club and the town in general over the last two-and-a-half years has been fantastic and there would be nothing more fitting in my eyes than to send him off a winner.
“But we’ve got Salford in front of us who are a quality team. They’re playing well and they deserve to be where they are.”