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Hopes that Salford takeover will be complete by Monday

Dr Marwan Koukash hopes to complete a takeover by Monday. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Racehorse magnate Marwan Koukash hopes to complete his takeover of Salford City Reds by Monday, he has revealed.

Talks with long-serving club chairman John Wilkinson and Salford City Stadium owners Peel Holdings and Salford Council are at an advanced stage, with Dr Koukash set to get the chance to transform the fortunes of the struggling Reds.

Flanked by former Wigan and New Zealand coach Graham Lowe, who is set to oversee player recruitment, and ex-New Zealand RL chairman Andrew Chalmers, Dr Koukash spoke of his ambitions after watching a makeshift Salford side go down 34-16 to a near full-strength Wigan team in a pre-season friendly at Barton.

"I hope it can be done in a few hours, certainly no longer than a few days," he said. "Hopefully by Monday we can announce the deal."

Only last week Salford avoided a winding-up petition brought by HM Revenue and Customs and former players Vinnie Anderson and Luke Patten over around £400,000 in unpaid bills, but tonight the club's future looks bright.

Koukash revealed his first task will be to invite Wilkinson to become the club's president, and he passed a vote of confidence in head coach Phil Veivers while pledging to make funds available immediately for team strengthening.

"The first thing I said to John was how grateful everybody was for the services he has provided and that, once I sign on the dotted line, he's going to be my president for life because I think he deserves that role," he added.

"He's been extremely honest. He's supported the club for the last 30 or 35 years and he's a wonderful man.

"I've met Phil a couple of times and I would like to say that Graham (Lowe) is not replacing Phil.

"He will work with Phil to recruit the right players. They will work as a team. We have full confidence in Phil and I think he will do a wonderful job.

"Graham has had meetings with Phil and we've identified a number of players. Although we haven't signed on the dotted line, we have been speaking to a number of players, players that will bring the crowds in and players who could win matches."

Koukash, who booked a hospitality box for family and friends at tonight's match, addressed the Salford players both before and after the game, which was a dress rehearsal for their Super League opener in a fortnight's time.

"I told them how grateful I was that they stuck around," he said. "The situation must have been horrific and they could easily have walked away.

"You could see their determination out there. They were young boys out their against big men but they fought."

Wigan led 24-4 at half-time thanks to two tries from England winger Josh Charnley, last year's Super League's leading scorer, and others from Sean O'Loughlin, Jack Hughes and Jack Murphy, plus two conversions from Pat Richards.

The Warriors added further tries through Iain Thornley and former Salford scrum-half Matty Smith to lead 34-4, but the City Reds produced a spirited late rally, with Marc Sneyd converting tries by Gareth Owen and Theo Fages.

"There were lot of positives all around from tonight," said a smiling Veivers.

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