ondon Irish have filed for administration, owner Mick Crossan has confirmed in an email to Exiles staff.
The west London club was ejected from the Gallagher Premiership on Tuesday night, after failing to meet a raft of conditions for sustainability by the 4pm RFU deadline.
The long-mooted US consortium-led takeover failed to materialise, with no detail ever forthcoming on the composition of the group or the source of funding.
Crossan had the chance even as late as Tuesday afternoon to commit to funding Irish for the full 2023/24 campaign, but rejected that opportunity.
So now the Powerday magnate has put the Exiles into administration, with the club weighed down by more than £30million of debt.
Crossan confirmed Irish’s administration in an open letter to supporters, insisting that proved “the safest path forward for the club”.
“I have publicly stated, on numerous occasions, that I would be willing to pass on the stewardship of the club if we could find the right person or group to take it forward and secure its long-term future,” said Crossan.
“After a decade of supporting the club financially, it is not feasible for me to continue absorbing the multi-million-pound losses of the club each year, indefinitely.
“Collectively, owners of clubs are working very hard to transform their models, but the lack of real support, at times, is non-existent. And it speaks volumes that Ralph Rimmer and Chris Pilling have been appointed by the Government as independent advisers to work on the future stability of rugby union in the UK.
“The professional game in this country needs to be radically transformed. And the current leadership must urgently review its practices from top to bottom if it has a desire to see professional rugby continue in England.
“Administration has always been the last resort, and something we hoped we could avoid. And we bitterly regret the difficulties it will present to each and every one of you.
“My focus is now on working with the appointed administrator and I hope that the club will come out of administration as quickly as possible.
“This development does not affect London Irish Amateur Rugby Football Club, to whom we recently granted a long lease on the Hazelwood premises and playing fields, or the operation of the Hazelwood facility whose facilities are extensively used for the benefit of all types of sporting activities and for the wider benefit of the local community.”
Exiles players, coaches and staff were free agents to seek new employment as soon as Irish were suspended from the entire English league structure by the RFU on Tuesday night. But now the club’s 124-year history has been officially drawn to a close.
Crossan only paid 50 per cent of Irish’s wage bill for May, leaving more than 100 employees out of pocket while now immediately unemployed.
Administrators will now oversee attempts to settle club debts, with the picture bleak in terms of any kind of rescue act.
The terms of the RFU suspension for next season leave precious little room even for a reformed set-up to take any kind of league place, even at the foot of the grassroots structure.
A clutch of Irish’s top talents are already in negotiations over transfers to Premiership clubs while also fielding offers from overseas.
England will hope the likes of Test wing Henry Arundell and highly-regarded flanker Tom Pearson can secure new deals on home soil, with Bath heavily interested in both talents.
Waste management magnate Crossan bought Irish in a rescue act in 2013, investing heavily in the Exiles and overseeing the move from Reading’s Madejski Stadium to Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium.
But despite finishing fifth this term in the Exiles’ highest Premiership placing since 2009, Crossan could not entice new investors to take the club forward.
Crossan was candid about his readiness to sell the Exiles as early as September, but more than six months of negotiations failed to yield a takeover despite much heralding of a US consortium led by former NFL and NBA stars.