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London Irish: Takeover of suspended Premiership Rugby club close to completion

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London Irish: Takeover of suspended Premiership Rugby club close to completion

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The takeover of London Irish is close to completion, Sky Sports News understands.

The club entered administration in June 2023 and have been in talks with German investor Daniel Thomas Loitz, who heads up investment firm Hokulani Ltd, in recent months.

Sky Sports News understands that administrators ReSolve Group have picked Loitz’s bid as the preferred offer.

It is also understood that ReSolve Group prefers Loitz’s offer to the administrators and a draft agreement is being drawn up, before updating the RFU.

Loitz told Sky Sports News that updated proof of funds have been sent, showing creditors and RFU that he has the funds to run the club.

“The three secured creditors have the final say on the takeover,” Loitz said.

“At the start of June, I will meet with fans to learn more about the heritage of the club and update them on the takeover.”

London Irish, the RFU and ReSolve Group have been approached for comment by Sky Sports News.

What happened to London Irish?

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James Cole explained why London Irish were suspended from all RFU leagues after failing to prove they had the funds to operate in the 2023/24 campaign.

After persistent rumours of a potential takeover by an American consortium, and in the wake of owner Mick Crossan saying last year he would sell the club for £1 if he could, alarm bells really started ringing for London Irish in April 2023, when players and staff received pay late.

Eventually, the club covered the salaries, with payments coming through a week late and two days before their final match of the Premiership season against Exeter Chiefs.

The players also demanded proof their insurance premiums had been covered before taking to the field for that game.

The RFU responded by giving London Irish a deadline of May 30 for a takeover to be completed or risk suspension.

The club were then given a one-week extension to get the takeover completed by 4pm on June 6, the main reason for which – it turned out – was the hope players and staff would receive the rest of the money owed for May, having been paid just half of their salary amounts for the month.

Seeking assurances the club would be in a position to take its place in the Premiership for 2023/24 – and would be able to complete the season – the RFU sought one of the following resolutions:

  • 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
  • The club evidences that it will continue to be funded to operate throughout the 2023/24 season.

Irish were in debt to the tune of £30m, and on Friday June 2 last year, the club were also served three winding-up petitions from the Government’s tax authority HMRC, due to unpaid taxes of £1m.

The Brentford-based club concluded their campaign with a 17-14 win over Exeter and afterwards, director of rugby Declan Kidney struck an optimistic tone, but the lack of progress was troubling.

With talk of the takeover seeming less and less credible, Irish’s only hope rested on whether Crossan would finance them for another campaign, but the 63-year-old owner continued to tell players and staff the American consortium would come through, right until the deadline on Tuesday.

When it inevitably failed to do so, the RFU suspended the Exiles – a club with 125 years of history and one of the best talent-producing academies in the country – from all leagues after failing to meet their commitments to pay staff and players in full for May.

As a result of the Exiles’ suspension, the Premiership was played as a 10-team competition for the 2023/24 season.

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