Millionaire racehorse owner Marwan Koukash has been unveiled as the mystery businessman locked in talks aimed at saving Salford City Reds.
Dr Koukash, who has made the bulk of his fortune from worldwide property development, attended a meeting at a secret location with development company Peel Holdings and Salford Council, the joint landlords of the Salford City Stadium, who are both keen to keep the ailing Super League club afloat.
The City Reds' potential saviour, who has almost 100 horses, is originally from Kuwait but has lived in Liverpool for 30 years and has his main offices based less than 10 minutes away from Haydock Park racecourse. It is thought Dr Koukash would be unlikely to go it alone at the Salford City Stadium, with Peel set to hold the key to any rescue plan.
The Super League club, who were successful in staving off the threat of liquidation at a court hearing in Manchester on Monday, were not represented at the meeting at which the Rugby Football League acted as brokers. There was no official comment from any of their parties involved but talks are expected to resume later in the week.
Salford say they need around £600,000 to survive the new season but a rescue plan collapsed in December when local councillors voted against a proposed £750,000 loan, which Peel were prepared to match.
It was the prospect of new investment that persuaded a judge to grant an adjournment of a winding-up petition brought by former players Luke Patten and Vinnie Anderson and HM Revenue and Customs. The hearing was put off until February 4, three days after the City Reds are due to play their opening match of Super League XVIII against Wigan.
In a statement, Salford said: "This additional time has been granted following careful consideration of the current position regarding new investment into the business.
"All concerned parties agreed that there was a real possibility that a positive conclusion could be reached and that this would be preferable to the execution of the lodged winding up petition against Salford Football Club 1914 Ltd."
City Reds chairman John Wilkinson, who is ready to step down after around 30 years at the helm, welcomed his club's stay of execution.
"Everyone is working every available hour to ensure that the on-going negotiations progress forward into an outcome that secures the future success of the Salford Rugby League Club," Wilkinson said. "We appreciate what a stressful time this is for staff, players and supporters and thank you all for your patience and understanding."