By Harry Mottram: The Rugby Football Union has given London Irish until Tuesday 6 June, 2023, to pay outstanding wages and produce information about a take-over after extending the deadline for a week. If the conditions are not met then the club could be suspended from the top flight league and would follow the demise of Wasps and Worcester leaving only seven clubs in the premiership.

Mick Crossan owns the club but has been in negotiations with an American business group who are set to buy London Irish and there lies the problem as the buyers have failed the 30 June deadline to show their figures and plans for the Gtech Stadium and ground set up in Brentford.

Eyebrows have been raised in the media and the sport more widely that the club employs 250 staff whose jobs are on the line if the club fails. Initially ICSM understands that Crossan agreed to pay 50% of the wages so at least the staff and players could bank cheques to help cover their living costs. The RFU were not impressed with the gesture and want the salaries to be paid in full and daylight shone on the takeover – a buy out that has been promised for weeks.

The RFU Club Financial Viability Group has agreed to give London Irish a one-week extended deadline to meet the original conditions as set out below and pay the remaining May payroll to staff and players.

1) a takeover of the club has been completed and approved by the RFU, with the buyers undertaking to provide all required working capital to meet the club’s obligations as they fall due for at least season 2023/24; or

2) the club evidences that it will continue to be funded to operate throughout the 2023/24 season. If the club fails to meet these conditions it will be suspended from participating in the Premiership (and other competitions) in season 2023/24 to avoid a scenario where the club enters insolvency mid-season, with the corresponding and substantial impact that has on players, staff, and fans, as well as on the remainder of the league.

The extension, until Tuesday 6 June, has been given following consultation with staff and players who asked for the deadline to be extended to allow them to be paid 50% of their salaries.

Paula Carter, RFU Board Member and Chair of the Club Financial Viability Working Group said; “It is deeply frustrating for all the staff, players and fans that there have been multiple missed deadlines. 

“We are extremely disappointed that the club has so far only funded 50% of the staff and player wages, however, we have to respect the wishes of those most affected.

“The 4pm deadline on 6 June is final and we have added the stipulation that the club must also fulfil its contractual obligations to its employees by paying the May salaries in full.”

There is increasing concern that not only will the new deadline not be met but it will lead to a collapse of the club and suppliers, contractors, staff and players will not be paid leaving a £30 million pound debt. Things look bleak with the players at one stage threatening to strike with the final fixtures in doubt last month. Some are voting with their feet and are being linked to rival clubs or looking to play abroad next season on in the Championship. Bath RFC have been linked by some in the sport to Henry Arundell who used to follow the club as a youngster while England under-20s back-row Chandler Cunningham‑South could be a target for the remaining topflight clubs.

It would be a further blow to a shrinking market for professional rugby players with a third club letting go of players – most clubs will have already set their budgets for the new season with some players leaving the sport at the top level. And with reports that Newcastle Falcons are also in financial trouble with reports last month they may seek voluntary relegation to the Championship to save money – news that is not helping the business of Rugby Union.


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