Dr Marwan Koukash – the good, the bad and the ugly – all in one press conference

Marwan Koukash has been at it again. Another headline grabbing press conference from the good Doctor confirmed that Tim Sheens has joined the club, while Kevin Locke departs.

Koukash also claimed that Salford council owe him £800,000 – there’s never a dull moment with the Red Devils these days, is there?

Starting with the positive news, Tim Sheens was announced as the club’s new director of rugby. The Australia coach won 26 of his 31 international tests and brings with him a wealth of experience.

Sheens spent three months in an advisory role with the club earlier this year but will now return in a more formal role until at least the end of the season.

“The club have agreed to appoint Tim Sheens as director of rugby,” Koukash told the press conference at the AJ Bell Stadium.

“I hope he will be with us in a week or so. I need Tim’s help to ensure we recruit the right people to this club.

“Obviously to start with Tim is on a short-term contract until the end of the season but it wouldn’t surprise me if he stayed on for two more years after that.

“He will help the club in many ways. I want to invest in youth and I need Tim’s help to ensure we recruit the players who will be proud to play for the club.”

Koukash was quick to point out that the appointment of Sheens will not affect Iestyn Harris, who will continue as the club’s head coach:

“Iestyn Harris is still the head coach. He has worked with Tim Sheens before and Tim’s appointment has no bearing on Harris’s position.”

Around 120 fans were at the press conference to hear not only of the appointment of Sheens, but of the departure of full-back Kevin Locke from the club.

Salford Red Devils have accepted the resignation handed in by Locke last week, but Koukash hit back at the Kiwi’s grievance relating to non-payment of wages.

“We always pay the players and we always pay them in full,” the billionaire businessman said.

“Kevin wanted to be released from his contract. He stated many reasons for it and he said that we owe him £52,000.

“I’ve gone personally through the wage slips that we made for Kevin and we don’t owe him a penny.”

Koukash then addressed the 26 year-old directly: “You have 24 hours to send a chartered accountant to check the payments – if I owe you a penny, I will hand deliver it to you and say sorry, but it’s not going to happen.”

Locke’s solicitor, Richard Cramer had previously said: “He (Locke) is still owed a considerable amount of money by the club and this matter is currently being pursued.

“It appears that Kevin now wants and intends to become a free agent in order for him to try and find a new club either in this country or in Australia.”

Koukash then turned his attention to another financial dispute, this time between the club and former player Tony Puletua.

The gathered media and fans were told that the club refutes all the allegations made by Puletua, now at Hull KR, and are pursuing legal action following his recent comments.

As if that wasn’t enough, Koukash also claimed the council owe him £800,000 – which they strongly refute.

“The council still owes me £800,00 and I am taking legal advice to try and recover the money,” said the club’s enigmatic owner.

“Our club pays between £300,000 and £400,000 to all old debt and that includes the old club. Mr Mayor, stop taking money out of our club.

“The amount of money the local authority owes me is more than £800,000 and this is in black and white.

“I am also working with the stadium company to try and reach a better deal.

“The stadium company needs to sit with me and agree a market deal.

“This is the most expensive stadium for us to play in and I am grateful to the support given us by Peel Holdings. They have been fantastic with us.”

A council spokesperson, responding to Koukash’s comments, said: “The club only survived because of the intervention of Salford City Council and the Rugby Football League. We are grateful to Dr Koukash for taking over the club but need to stress that he willingly signed a legal agreement to take on the debts of the former club.

“It is not unreasonable, therefore, to expect him to honour that agreement and continue repaying that loan.

“It is wholly untrue to say Salford City Council owes the club money and that is in the hands of our legal people.

“It is also wholly untrue to say Salford City Council has not supported the club.

“Salford City Council has offered extensive support to keep rugby super league in the city. This is to support fans, maintain jobs and to protect our investment in the stadium, which is a catalyst for regeneration.

“We are very disappointed by his comments today but remain committed to working with Dr Koukash and the club in the interests of the people of Salford.”

The rows with Locke, Puletua and Salford City Council look set to rumble on over the coming weeks and months – I bet Sheens can’t wait to get on the flight over here!

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