As Salford battle for their Super League survival, it has emerged that owner Marwan Koukash has stepped up his interest in acquiring a significant stake in an Australian club.
Koukash is keen to become involved with NRL wooden spooners Newcastle, Press Association Sport understands, although this will not be at the expense of the Red Devils.
The wealthy racehorse owner, who has become disillusioned with the governance of rugby league in England, has said he will consider his position with the Super League club once their fight against relegation is over but he is unlikely to leave the club in the lurch.
Koukash, who attended Salford’s Super 8s Qualifiers match with London Broncos at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday rather than watching one of his horses race at the Ayr Gold Cup, is thought to have reassured the players of his commitment to the club.
The Red Devils’ plight worsened with their 19-16 defeat by the Broncos and they must now win their final game of the Qualifiers at Batley on Sunday for the right to contest the Million-Pound Game against Huddersfield or Hull KR, which will determine the make-up of Super League for 2017.
In the meantime, it is understood Koukash is in talks with the NRL, who took over the running of the beleaguered Knights two years ago and, after helping stabilise the club, are now seeking offers for it.
Newcastle, who are coached by former Huddersfield and St Helens boss Nathan Brown, could be privately owned by the end of the year if talks are successful.
The NRL has engaged leading financial advisory firm Deloitte to handle the sale process.
Koukash expressed an interest in buying Newcastle two years ago and also spoke of forming a new club, British Bulldogs, to play in the NRL from 2018.