London Irish have been given a one-week extension in their battle for survival with the Rugby Football Union setting a final deadline of June 6 to prove they have a future.
Irish will be suspended from the Gallagher Premiership unless a takeover has been completed or they can demonstrate they have the funding needed to operate for the entirety of the 2023-24 season.
The May payroll for all staff and players must also be paid in full after it was confirmed that only 50 per cent has been received so far.
The RFU said it had granted the extension until 4pm next Tuesday at the request of Irish employees.
“It’s deeply frustrating for all the staff, players and fans that there have been months of multiple missed deadlines,” RFU Club Financial Viability Working Group chair Paula Carter said.
“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.”
Irish had earlier been told that all staff must be paid in full by owner Mick Crossan on Wednesday in order for a deadline extension to be granted, but the RFU has softened its stance at the request of club staff.
The #GallagherPrem regular season has come to an end 🙏
How did your team get on? 🤩 pic.twitter.com/jsmyWJsHWM
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) May 6, 2023
An American consortium is in discussions to take over the Exiles but has yet to provide proof of funds to the RFU, as well as other documentation needed for the purchase to be approved.
The group now has one week to complete the takeover and show that it has the capital to sustain Irish for at least one season.
The only alternative if suspension from the Premiership is to be avoided is for Crossan to commit to the club for 2023-24, providing evidence that he has the finance to prevent them entering insolvency in mid-season.
Irish are in grave danger of becoming the third Premiership club to fold at the end of the grimmest season in the history of the league, following Wasps and Worcester by going out of business.
It comes despite the Exiles finishing fifth in the table, just three points adrift of the play-offs, while playing some of the competition’s most entertaining rugby under the guidance of former Ireland head coach Declan Kidney.
Since 2020 they have played at Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium and on top of lacking their own ground to generate revenue, they are saddled with debt in the region of £30million.
The fate of Wasps and Worcester are bleak examples of the dangers of the financial crisis that has unfolded in the Premiership.
Wasps have been demoted to the bottom of the league pyramid after the RFU revoked their licence to play in next season’s Championship, placing a question mark over their existence.
And ambitions that Worcester could be relaunched in the Championship ended because of a dispute over terms between their new owners Atlas and the RFU.