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Declan Kidney hosts briefing to provide latest London Irish update

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Declan Kidney has confirmed that this Saturday’s London Irish match will definitely go ahead even though players and staff at the club are still waiting to be paid their monthly salary. Payday was last Friday and despite assurances since then from the club’s prospective new owners that their delayed remuneration was on its way, payment still hasn’t materialised for any of the Exiles’ 130 players and staff.


This has resulted in the Gallagher Premiership club being subjected to a swirl of speculation about its future, but Kidney explained that assurances have been received that the takeover situation will resolve itself and that wages will eventually be paid.

The director of rugby has no updated date as to when these monthly salaries would be received, nor did he have an exact date as to when the proposed American investor takeover would be complete.

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What he did insist though at a 22-minute Thursday media briefing was that this Saturday’s season-ending clash versus Exeter in Brentford was going ahead as scheduled, that it was business as usual at the club with in excess of 10,000 tickets sold.

The briefing was very different from anything London Irish have experienced in quite some time. Usually, only a handful of people participate in their weekly media calls via Zoom, but Kidney fielded an audience of 20 people when providing the latest update on his club’s situation.


Starting with an unprompted two-and-a-half intro, Kidney explained: “I don’t have any great statement, I will just tell you what I know because we have been in the news during the week. There are obviously very sensitive negotiations going on at the moment between the owners and the respective buyers.

“Because payday has ended up in the middle of all that, that has highlighted something. I can inform you that no employees here – players, staff – have been paid as of yet but we have been given a lot of assurances from the prospective new ownership that will happen over the coming days.


“So a bit like player negotiations, because of the sensitivities of them, it is very difficult to talk about them. I wouldn’t know a whole lot about them anyway because it is between the owner and the prospective owners.”

Asked about the chronology of the delicate situation that has arisen at London Irish, Kidney replied: “Payday was last Friday; we have not received payment yet. Players and staff. We have been working towards the game going ahead on Saturday. All insurances are paid up to date and we are looking forward to the game on Saturday.

“We have got a lot of assurances that things are working towards a positive conclusion. Representatives have come in and spoken to us and assured us that things will be in place and that there is a positive future ahead for us,” he continued, adding that a player boycott of Saturday’s match hasn’t been a talking point. “There has been absolutely no indication from the players that play is an issue.

“Preparations are in full swing, all the off-field stuff, staff, sales, everything is going ahead. In our training schedule, we were training Tuesday, Wednesday this week. Today [Thursday] is our down day. Training has taken place fully, and we have the captain’s run tomorrow [Friday] for what we know will be a very tough match against the European semi-finalists.


“There is a lot of emotion floating around in end-of-season games. This one probably is even heightened even more… as far as we are concerned, we are ploughing ahead towards the match on Saturday.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the quality of players I work with just in terms of their application and their positiveness. I know we are a professional team, but these lads are way more than about money. They are working away all week and I haven’t actually had to pick them up.

“Not alone the players but also the coaching staff, the physios, the whole organisation of 130 people how they have gone about their work, you wouldn’t actually notice any difference in the way people approach this match… we are trying to finish as high up the table as we can. This is a really important match to us so as such I don’t have to pick them up, they are doing that just because of the quality of people they are.”

Kidney added that the London Irish situation was different from what happened at Wasps and Worcester earlier this season, those two clubs collapsing financially and falling out of the Premiership.

“You can draw too many comparisons between us and other teams then too and that would be wrong to do that. It’s unfortunate but we entrust that in the owners and the prospective owners that they will get a positive resolution for everyone involved here.”


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RUGBYPASS+ Saracens back on their perch to continue the dynasty Saracens back on their perch to continue the dynasty