American investors step up London Irish takeover bid
American investors are stepping up a bid to take control at London Irish, in a deal to shore up the Premiership club's future.
Owner Mick Crossan has been open to selling the Brentford club for at least six months, with the Powerday founder looking to steer the Exiles into a new era.
The millionaire businessman has pledged to keep backing Irish while exploring opportunities for a sale, and would relinquish control to new owners ready to take the club forward on a sound footing.
New fears have been raised around cash flow, but Irish chiefs are hopeful of resolving the issue without any financial impact on staff and players. A Premiership Rugby or RFU funding advance would be one route to solving any cash-flow concern this month.
Irish have insisted however that all wages will be paid as normal this month.
“It has been public knowledge that the Club is exploring its options with regards to investment, however no comment will be made until there is anything to announce,” read a London Irish statement.
“In regards to recent media reports, London Irish can categorically confirm that all staff will be paid this month. Anything reported to the contrary is pure speculation.”
Crossan bought London Irish in 2013 in a consortium deal, later securing the Exiles' move from Reading to Brentford's Gtech Community Stadium. The groundshare has started to bear fruit, with solid crowds and a buzz around the west London set-up.
The Premiership's financial pressures are sparing none of the top-flight clubs, however, with rugby under pressure on the back of covid and battling to contain wages.
Wasps and Worcester going under at the tail-end of last year sent shockwaves through the sport.
The harsh realities are that new investment will be the fastest route to financial security for several more clubs, and governing body Premiership Rugby have been exploring avenues for overseas investors.
Irish have built steadily under coaches Declan Kidney and Les Kiss, and stand on the cusp of a first play-off campaign since 2009.
Star England wing Ollie Hassell-Collins will join Leicester this summer, with full-back Tom Parton off to Saracens and Australia lock Rob Simmons heading to Clermont.
Hassell-Collins and Parton's departures are softened by an abundance of backline talent, with Henry Arundell and Ben Loader chief among those staying.