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'Let's return to reality - Ireland must exercise caution'

Irish expectation soars as Andy Farrell's team sweeps all in its path, but cool heads are needed if they are to heed mistakes of the past

London Irish owner turned down 'two or three' offers to buy club

By Chris Jones
London Irish v Northampton Saints – Gallagher Premiership – Gtech Community Stadium

Mick Crossan, the London Irish owner who has seen the Premiership outfit suspended from the league and forced into administration, turned down according to insiders “two or three” offers from investors wanting to buy the club before the failed bid by an American consortium.


The previous offers to buy Irish included a consortium of five businessmen – three of whom were based in Ireland – who made an offer to buy Crossan out in 2018 in a £3.6m deal. It is understood, this was just one of the offers Crossan received during his tenure with one insider stating: “Mick had opportunities to sell over the years but wouldn’t.”

RugbyPass has been told that “2 to 3” offers were made for the club. Another potential investor also looked at Irish at the same time as the American consortium but he could not see how to make it work, considering the debts the club had accrued. These are thought to include rent owed to Brentford FC for use of the stadium. Brentford FC refused to comment “on commercially confidential aspects of our relationship” when questioned about claims Irish had not paid their rent for the use of the stadium for three months.

There are now suggestions that the Irish Rugby Football Union may be interested in trying to revive the club to increase the playing opportunities for Irish talent, however, a former club official said: ”I cannot see that is feasible unless they are thinking about working with he amateur section of London Irish.”

In his open letter to fans Crossan said said: “I have publicly stated, on numerous occasions, that I would be willing to pass on the stewardship of the club if we could find the right person or group to take it forward and secure its long-term future. After a decade of supporting the club financially, it is not feasible for me to continue absorbing the multi-million-pound losses of the club each year, indefinitely.”


The failure to complete a deal with an American based consortium on Tuesday, who claimed they were willing to take on the club’s debts of £30m, saw Irish suspended from all league activity and triggered administration. It marked a devastating end for a club that finished fifth in the Gallagher Premiership having moved from Reading to the Gtech Stadium at Brentford to try and build a secure future.

In 2013 Crossan had led his own consortium, which also included businessman Phil Cusack, to buy London Irish in a deal reported to be worth £2.5million.


Crossan, who was the majority shareholder and club president, confirmed in 2018 a discussion with a group of investors had taken place but reaffirmed his long-term commitment to the Exiles.

The Irishman, who is also the founding owner of waste management company Powerday, said at that time: “This year London Irish is 120 years old and I want to make sure that the club is secure for the next 120 years.

“I am very much on board with the club for the long-term but we have been speaking to a number of investors about joining the current shareholders to help the club develop to the next level to become a real contender in the Aviva Premiership.

“The process is in the early stages but as you would expect with a club that has such a rich history, passionate supporter base and strong credentials, we have received a number of investment enquiries, however, London Irish will only entertain working with investors that offer long-term security and share the same passion for the club that the existing shareholders have.”


However, at that point it was estimated Irish needed investment of £10million over the next three year as they were then paying substantial rent to be based at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.


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