Love him or loathe him, Dr Koukash has added colour to the rugby league pages this season, and at the Salford Red Devils launch, he promised more than that.
While the Super League waited for the identity of the 12 new signings announced on the day, with more to come, it was hard to ignore Koukash’s comments in relation to rugby league and the growth of the game.
He pulled no punches in stating rugby league needs help to reach its commercial potential, and refuted suggestions that he had done anything untoward when it comes to approaching players and the salary cap.
Koukash stated that he wanted to work with the RFL and other clubs to help grow the game, and pointed to the attention he is affording the sport in the world of horse racing, the second most watched sport in the UK.
He also said that he wasn’t a flash in the pan, insisting he is the real deal and wants to see Salford as the biggest club within four years.
The attention and fuss surrounding the event is something that rugby league desperately needs. Here we are, with an ambitious owner at a relatively underperforming club, promising to invest and turn them around. This isn’t just about a few signings, its about a new brand, the Red Devils, a new image and a new attitude off the pitch.
I made the point in a recent column that rugby league needs to start shouting about what it’s got, and not what it hasn’t. At the Salford City Stadium today, Dr Koukash shouted about what he’s got, and what he’s hoping to get. There was no feeling sorry for himself, worrying about others, even worrying about what the RFL are doing, the attention was all on Salford.
For as much as other clubs may be sat in the shadows sniggering about the media circus around Koukash, it’s that pitching for attention and grabbing the headlines that makes football and rugby union so popular; in terms of people watching, commercial success and media coverage.
There will be those hoping that Koukash and Salford fail. There will be those that may have doubts over the long-term feasibility of the plans, and the possible over-reliance on Koukash, but why focus on that now? Why not embrace an ambitious man, new to the sport, with a plan. How many clubs across a number of sports would be able to exist without the support of an individual?
Don’t shoot him down now, before he’s had a chance to prove himself.