Dave Craven: Catalans the unwitting victims in Koukash’s latest attack

Salford owner Marwan Koukash
Salford owner Marwan Koukash
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ANY press release that involves the phrase “Dear Marwan” generally piques my interest.

Love him or loathe him, Salford Red Devils’ outspoken owner certainly knows how to court controversy.

But when you combine his traits with Catalans Dragons’ often amusing press missives, it is a perfect storm.

To be fair, you never know with those Catalans media bulletins –sometimes things just get a little lost in translation, other times it is just the way they read; matter-of-fact, no fluff, to the point. It’s all part of the fun.

Regardless, so it was on Thursday they sent out the following beauty. It caught my eye initially as the subject header was “Catalans Dragons statement” which normally means, at any club, that someone has done something very wrong and someone will say they are very, very sorry or, alternatively, that person is being shown the door.

In this instance, though, it was in response to Koukash’s latest public rant at the RFL. That, by the way, had also included a swipe at Catalans, questioning how they afford even their starting XIII under the salary cap, querying where all their French players were and, adding insult to injury, saying the whole Dragons entity was the governing body’s ‘baby’.

Anyway, there was a little quirky pre-amble in the press release before said statement from Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch.

It read: “Dear Marwan, We were used to better manners from the chairmen and owners from other Super League clubs.

“We are delighted of your recent arrival in our sport. As we did 10 years ago, you have brought a new impulse to the competition.

“I am available to discuss with you about how we negotiate contracts with players and their agents and our ability to fill our stadium.

“I invite you to spend few days in Perpignan to discuss this together, I’m sure a journey in the South of France will calm your anger.

“The entire Catalans Dragons club wish you, all the clubs and their fans a very enjoyable weekend at the unique and amazing event that is the Magic Weekend.”

What a joy. I can just picture Guasch, who has made his millions as a butcher no less, waiting at Perpigan Airport’s arrivals gate with a meat cleaver swinging from one hand into the other, with the grin of a silent assassin ready to offer Koukash that warm welcome in readiness to sort those anger issues. Classic.

Okay, maybe I’m reading a little too much into that but, one thing is for sure, it was a bizarre tact from the Salford owner given he needs as much support as he can muster from his fellow chairmen if he is serious about Super League’s clubs forging ahead and splitting from the “unfit for purpose” RFL.

In fairness, Koukash has raised many valid points in his latest attack on the governing body and it will be intriguing to see if he does, indeed, garner enough allies to see his plan through. But everything is so wild and reckless at the moment; he needs someone to bring some clarity to it all if he does intend on achieving his aims.

In the meantime, he took to social media to respond to Guasch’s offer, declaring it a “kind” and “tempting invite” before insisting his beef was with the RFL and not Catalans’ owner or his club.

Koukash’s sign-off? “Anyway, if the RFL allow you to get away with it, then that is not your fault. Regards Marwan.”

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