London Irish are the latest victims of the financial crisis gripping the Gallagher Premiership.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the clubs most affected by the grim outlook.
The first club placed into administration back in September, Worcester’s future is still uncertain despite being taken over by Jim O’Toole’s Atlas Group. Entrance into the second tier Championship has been blocked by the Rugby Football Union for their failure to meet certain conditions and their plan of joining with Stourbridge and relaunching in the fifth tier appears dead in the water.
The month after Worcester folded, Wasps followed them into administration as the league suffered the crushing blow of losing one of English rugby’s most famous brands. Further misery was to come as having targeted rebirth in the Championship, the failure to meet certain conditions forced the RFU to revoke their license and demote them to the foot of the rugby pyramid.
Burdened by debts of around £30million and with owner Mick Crossan desperate to sell, London Irish have followed Wasps and Worcester out of the Premiership. The RFU granted an extended deadline of June 6 for either the proposed takeover by an American consortium to be completed or for Crossan to prove he can finance Irish for the entire 2023-24 season. Neither came through, resulting in the club being suspended from the entire league structure.
Leicester needed an emergency cash injection of £13million from directors Peter Tom and Tom Scott in February to address what chief executive Andrea Pinchen described as “very challenging conditions”. A letter from the club to shareholders sent in March stated that if the funding was not approved, there would be no option but to appoint administrators.
Even Exeter, one of the few clubs in the pre-pandemic era to operate at a profit, were forced to take special measures in December. Chiefs owner Tony Rowe bought a stake in a hotel owned by the club in order for it to service its debts, including Covid loans issued by the Government. Rowe’s intervention has shored up the finances for the time being.