ondon Irish’s players and staff have won the Exiles a stay of Gallagher Premiership execution, after urging the RFU not to suspend the Brentford-based club tonight.
The Exiles now have until 4pm next Tuesday, June 6, to complete the long-mooted club takeover or prove full funding for the 2023/24 season.
Irish chiefs will also have to pay the second half of club salaries for May, after owner Mick Crossan paid only 50 per cent of the Exiles’ payroll today.
Crossan yesterday initially agreed to pay the full May payroll, only to renege on that promise just hours later.
The RFU have been left “extremely disappointed” with owner Crossan only delivering half of the May wages tonight, and have now set an absolute deadline for Irish to secure their very future.
The US consortium bidding to buy Irish have been in talks since October, but have still failed to provide the RFU with any detailed information on their source of funding or the set-up of the deal.
The RFU would have suspended Irish tonight, but players and staff have won an 11th-hour reprieve for the beleaguered west London club, that remains mired in more than £30million of debt.
“It is deeply frustrating for all the staff, players and fans that there have been months of multiple missed deadlines,” said RFU club financial viability working group chair Paula Carter.
“We are extremely disappointed that the club has so far only funded 50 per cent of the staff and player wages, however, we have to respect the wishes of those most affected.
“The 4pm deadline on June 6 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.”
Crossan still has the ability to pledge a full season’s funding, which would satisfy RFU demands.
But the Exiles owner since 2013 has opted not to take such action at every stage of a protracted takeover process beset by delay after delay.
Waste management magnate Crossan has been repeatedly reminded of his responsibilities as owner of London Irish by the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association.
Scepticism continues to shroud the legitimacy of the US consortium fronted by a clutch of former NFL and NBA stars, leaving Irish’s players and staff in limbo and fearing for their futures.
Irish going under in the same season as Worcester and Wasps would deliver another bitter blow to the English club game, leaving a 10-team Premiership a certainty for next season.
“The RFU Club Financial Viability Group has agreed to give London Irish a one-week extended deadline to meet the original conditions and pay the remaining May payroll to staff and players,” read an RFU statement.
“A takeover of the club must be 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 the club must evidence 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, June 6, has been given following consultation with staff and players who asked for the deadline to be extended to allow them to be paid 50 per cent of their salaries.”