Sale Sharks: Chairman Fran Cotton hopes to rebuild relationship with supporters

Fran Cotton
Ex-England captain Fran Cotton was the British and Irish Lions manager in 1997

New Sale Sharks chairman Fran Cotton has conceded they must work to restore their relationship with some fans.

Attendances have fallen in recent years since the Premiership side moved from Edgeley Park in Stockport to AJ Bell Stadium in Barton in 2012.

Sale have moved home games back to Friday nights for the upcoming season.

"I think there is some rebuilding to do because I think people in the early days of moving have had a pretty poor experience," Cotton told BBC Sport.

"That could be queuing up on a motorway, couldn't get away from the stadium, couldn't buy a drink at the ground. Listening to the things we're going to do to change that, if people come down from now they will find a very different experience.

"The infrastructure is still well away from where it needs to be but there are plans to develop that."

Board representation

Simon Orange
Simon Orange's investment group CorpArq took over Sale last month

Cotton, 69, a former England and British and Irish Lions prop returned to Sale - a club he served as both a player and director - after Simon Orange's takeover of the Premiership side in June.

He has promised to be active in his role, despite his commitments with his clothing business.

"What I really want to see is a very strong north of England club that can compete at the highest level," he added.

"That is my motivation for giving up the precious thing that I have got, and that is my time.

"I think what was lacking before was that the board weren't very often represented at games home and away, and I think that is very wrong - board members will travel to away games and home games."

No conflict

Steve Diamond
Steve Diamond returned to the Sale coaching staff in January 2011

One of the standout announcements from Sale's new 10-man board was that director of rugby Steve Diamond will have a seat on it.

However, Cotton insists there will be no conflict of interest with a member of the coaching staff also working as a director.

"It will put no strain whatsoever on the relationship, we're here to support him," Cotton continued.

"We'll be working very closely with Diamond to make sure we can achieve the ambition which we all hold - if we went down we'd still be with them."

Diamond also confirmed they are close to signing a new full-back and are still looking for another player to add to their backline, with former Bath and London Welsh winger Nick Scott on trial with the club.

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