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English rugby clubs ‘heading for disaster’ after mounting £300m in debts

Harlequins and London Irish are two clubs noted as being particularly concerning

Sports Staff
Thursday 22 December 2022 11:40 GMT
(Getty Images)

England’s top-flight clubs have accumulated a combined debt of £300million in six years, according to an investigation into the precarious financial position of the Gallagher Premiership.

Wasps and Worcester have been placed into administration already this season - the Warriors are still seeking new owners - and a report in the Daily Telegraph suggests other teams are struggling, naming London Irish and Harlequins individually.

The £300m total excludes the £200m investment for a 27 per cent share from CVC Capital Partners in 2018. The private equity firm took out a £27.5m dividend for the last two financial years.

The investigation by private equity director Mike Ryan described London Irish as “high risk” because of their low turnover, while Harlequins are of concern after borrowing £48m in 2021.

“The club structure has historically been on an unsustainable footing. It has never made a profit,” Ryan told the Telegraph.

“At the moment, this is heading for disaster. I would like to see the fiscal-year 2022 numbers to be more comfortable with the call, but I would be surprised if they were any better than FY19 [financial year 2019]. The overall competition is still losing money.

“It is professional on the field and semi-professional at best off the field. That is the biggest problem that rugby is facing globally, in my view.”

There have been calls for “common sense” to prevail to reduce the Premiership to ten teams, while the Warriors’ prospective new owners last week accused the RFU of trying to “impose onerous operational conditions” on them.


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