London Irish Will Not Sell Stake In Premiership Rugby To Rival Clubs
Premiership Rugby side London Irish "vowed to resist any pressure to sell" its stake in the Premiership from rival clubs that "want to establish a 12-team competition," according to Alex Lowe of the LONDON TIMES. A group of "influential club owners" are understood to have raised the idea of the Premiership buying back the so-called "P share" from one of its 13 stakeholder clubs and then "pulling up the drawbridge by ending promotion and relegation." It is the "most radical ringfencing proposal to have been floated," given that it would "effectively kill off the top-flight ambitions of one of England's leading professional clubs." The 12 Premiership clubs and Rugby Football Union Championship side Bristol own the shares. Bristol is "preparing for a return to the top flight," while London Irish is at the bottom of the Premiership. But Mick Crossan, who owns 70% of London Irish, said that he "will not sell his stake in the Premiership." Crossan wants £10M ($14M) of fresh investment to take the club "to the next level." He "supports ringfencing the Premiership but not at the expense of his own club or any other, and wants a 14-team league with a moratorium on relegation" (LONDON TIMES, 1/23).