Class of '92 fully invested in Salford - Butt

Salford CEO Nicky Butt
Nicky Butt said he and the other members of the Class of '92 all are passionate about achieving more with Salford City [Rex]

The Class of '92 are still fully invested in driving Salford City forward, according to chief executive Nicky Butt.

It is 10 years since Butt, his fellow ex-Manchester United team-mates and Singapore businessman Peter Lim got involved with the club.

But Butt is insistent that they all are passionate about achieving more with the League Two outfit.

"Go and look at the budget and the accounts that go on file and go and see them," he said.

"If we weren’t invested we wouldn’t be putting this much money in, which we have done for 10 years with Peter Lim who is an amazing partner."

Salford have had a meteoric rise since Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes joined forces in 2014 to work alongside Lim.

From the eighth tier and the Northern Premier League Division One North, the club achieved four promotions in five seasons to reach the EFL in 2019.

They have spent five years in League Two, with seventh place and a play-off semi-final defeat by Stockport County 12 months ago their best finish.

But they slipped to a disappointing 20th this campaign, with manager Neil Wood replaced mid-season by Karl Robinson.

Now in an extensive interview with BBC Radio Manchester, Butt reflected on that and how he and the Class of '92 are still as invested in the project as when they walked through the doors a decade ago.

Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes watching a Salford City game
Nicky Butt (second left) with fellow Class of '92 investor Paul Scholes (centre) [Rex]

'This club is our baby'

"We love the football club, it’s our baby," Butt said.

"I don’t think the lads need to come in here every single day. We've got lovely lives, we go on holiday when they want, enough money, why come in here? But you’ll find the lads in here.

"We made a 10-year plan, build a support base, a stadium and an academy and we’ve done that.

"We don’t want pats on the back, ultimately we’ve said what we’d do. Salford City have never done that in their history.

"Those 10 years are up, what’s the next 10 years? Where do we want to get to – stadium, Championship? That’s going to take a lot of money.

"We have a nice life, we don’t have that kind of money. You need investment in and expertise in growing the global brand."

Butt added that the club is open to offers of new investment as they aim for promotion to League One and to become more sustainable, but with nothing immediately on the table.

"We're not close right now," he said. "A lot of meetings.

"As you know with things like that, it can happen with the drop of a hat or it can take a long time.

"We've had a lot of chats with a lot of big companies that like the story and what we bring, and that's as much as I can say."

Salford boss Karl Robinson
Karl Robinson is Salford's fifth permanent manager since they entered the EFL in 2019 [Rex]

'Quit if you don't aim high'

On the pitch, plans begin immediately for the 2024-25 campaign with Salford looking to compete at the other end of the table under the experienced Robinson.

After losing to Stockport on penalties in the play-off semi-final 12 months ago, Butt was optimistic that the team would kick on.

Instead, they ended up flirting with relegation in an uncomfortable campaign with former MK Dons and Oxford United boss Robinson brought in to steady the ship.

And Butt is strident in his belief that promotion should again be the aim for next season.

"Absolutely," Butt said.

"Every year the manager comes in, the players, we talk to them about expectations.

"No-one is saying if we don’t get promotion it’s all going to change.

"It’s a tough league but you have to have the right mentality to go and get promotion, that’s what the fans want, us as owners, the managers, the players, the sponsors.

"We expected to go one better this season. Was the squad better? It turned out not to be the case.

"We wanted to get promotion, we’re an ambitious ownership group, hopefully ambitious players, and everything we do we get laughed at because I said promotion, but if you don’t go into a season wanting promotion you may as well quit."

'One eye on where to go next'

One thing that is certain is that Salford's immediate future will be at the 5,000-capacity Peninsula Stadium, a ground which has been hugely redeveloped over the last decade.

The club had been in talks over a move to the larger Salford Community Stadium in a groundshare with Premiership rugby club Sale Sharks, but that is no longer an option.

“That is completely off the cards," Butt said. "The council have bought that. It wasn’t meant to be.

“We have a stadium we can be proud of, but we have an eye on where we can go next.

“We have a stadium that facilitates our needs. The Salford Community Stadium was future-proofing ourselves, probably a bit too soon to get it, but we couldn’t turn it down to go into a joint [agreement] with Sale, in this part of the world where land is tough to get.

“We went all out, we agreed terms. Literally in the meeting where we were signing it off, the council pulled out."

The full interview with Nicky Butt will be on BBC Radio Manchester’s Total Sport programme at 18:00 BST (Tuesday 30 April).