It has been a horrendous year in terms of financial trouble for Premiership rugby clubs, with both Wasps and Worcester being ousted from the top-flight league after failing to pay debts. Despite the season now having come to a close, the trouble appears far from over for other clubs.
Following on from the recent news that Newcastle Falcons have made a yearly loss of £2.5m, London Irish have now been served a ‘winding up petition’ over an unpaid tax bill. They were initially given an extended deadline of Tuesday 6th June at 4 pm to have their affairs in order, which involved ensuring that their full staff wages were paid in May, for which only half currently have been.
Following a petition filed at the High Court today (Friday) against London Irish Holdings Limited and London Irish Rugby Football Ground Limited, the club could still be suspended from the Premiership. Their only hope is to complete a takeover, for which an American consortium is reportedly interested, or prove that they have the funding to operate for the entire 2023/24 season.
A HMRC spokesperson has said: “We take a supportive approach to dealing with customers who have tax debts and only file winding-up petitions once we’ve exhausted all other options, in order to protect taxpayers’ money.”
The Exiles are currently in roughly £30m worth of debt, so any takeover bid needs to prove that they would be able to cover these debts as well as being able to sustainably run the club financially for the next season.