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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 19:22 GMT
Sale step closer to Maine Road
Sale's ground Heywood Road
Sale's spiritual home will remain at Heywood Road
Premiership side Sale Sharks have been given the chance to establish Maine Road as their new home.

The ground, currently occupied by Manchester City, has been the subject of several possible new ventures since it was announced that the football club will be moving to a new purpose-built stadium.

But Manchester City Council have agreed on Monday to offer Sharks a lease to the stadium and negotiations are set to get underway.

Should Sale decide to finalise the move, they will have one of the finest Premiership stadia in the country, with the possibility of Maine Road becoming a rugby union stronghold in the north of England.

Union's opportunity beckons

Sale's current ground, Heywood Road, would continue to serve as a community facility offering the development of the amateur game, with Sharks' senior, women, junior and mini teams still being based there.

Our spiritual home will remain at Heywood Road
  Peter Deakin, Sale chief executive

Sale's chief executive Peter Deakin confirmed that the legalities had yet to be finalised between Manchester City Council and the club before the move became reality.

"Our legal people are working with their legal people over terms and conditions so it's not set in stone yet," Deakin said.

"But I believe it is a wonderful opportunity for rugby union and in particular Sale Sharks as it looks to establish itself at the elite end of the game.

"We won't be forgetting our roots though and our spiritual home will remain at Heywood Road because we believe in the continuance of the club at amateur level."

First Division football side Stockport County have been another club contesting for the new occupancy, with their chairman even willing to change their name to Man-Stock County.

Manchester City move to their new 48,000-seater Commonwealth Games stadium in Eastlands in 2003.

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See also:

30 Nov 00 |  Stockport
Stockport eye Maine Road move
12 Nov 00 |  Rugby Union
Sharks sail through safely
17 Oct 00 |  Rugby League
Sharks snap up Robinson at last
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