Best berates league's 'Peter Pan existence'

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The London Irish coach, Dick Best, may be planning a major recruitment drive on the playing side this summer, but he will not allow the Exiles to go bust in the search for success.

Best is believed to be targeting five players and it is likely his purchasing arm will be strengthened with money from the deal with the Rugby Football Union that will eventually guarantee each Premiership One club £2.6m a year, assuming it is ratified before the end of this season.

Rob Andrew's blueprint for the game should finally see professional clubs start to make a profit. However, Best fears much of the financial windfall will work its way into the players' pockets, and the game may find itself in a worse situation than it is in already.

"We have to make it possible for someone to break even," said Best, whose own club moved from their famous Sudbury home to share The Stoop with Harlequins this season.

"There has been so much talk about the amount of losses being incurred by clubs, it is crucial that the money is not just spent on players.

"There must be some light at the end of the tunnel. Someone must break even just to show it can be done. We cannot go on living in this Peter Pan existence."

With the high-scoring utility back Jarrod Cunningham signed up for another year, Best has at least made a start in retaining the bulk of a squad that reached the semi-finals of both the Tetley's Bitter Cup and European Shield this season.

Their league form has, however, been patchy and Tuesday's 28-23 defeat at Newcastle has left them with an uphill fight for a Heineken Cup place next season. And Best knows he needs to strengthen his squad to compete at the top end of the table.

"We are looking around and have held negotiations with a few people," he said. "It is obvious to everyone that we need a bit more firepower."

* The Murrayfield Wanderers player-coach, Peter Wright, has given the Scottish side a boost before Saturday's Cellnet Bowl final against Lithlingow by saying that he will stay at the club.