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London Irish gets extension to avoid Premiership axe

UPDATE: London Irish have been given a week’s extension until June 6 to pay all staff their full May wages or face being suspended from the English Premiership.

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The Exiles will lose their top-flight status in English rugby unless a takeover has been completed or they can demonstrate they have the required funds to operate for the whole of the 2023/24 season.

Their May payroll for all players and staff must also be paid in full after it was confirmed Wednesday that only 50 percent of those wages had been distributed to date.

The Rugby Football Union said it had granted the extension until 16.00 BST (15.00 GMT) next Tuesday at the request of Exiles employees.

“It’s deeply frustrating for all the staff, players and fans that there have been months of multiple missed deadlines,” said RFU Club Financial Viability Working Group chair Paula Carter.

“We are extremely disappointed that the club has so far only funded 50 percent of the staff and player wages. However, we have to respect the wishes of those most affected.

“The 16.00 deadline on June 6 is final and we have added the stipulation that the club must also fulfil its contractual obligations to its employees by paying the May salaries in full.”

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The RFU had set an original Tuesday deadline for London Irish to prove a proposed takeover by an American consortium was a going concern, amid the Exiles’ reported debts of £30 million (35 million euros, $37 million).

But officials are keen a season of unprecedented turmoil in English club rugby, which has seen Wasps and Worcester ejected from the Premiership after going out of business, does not claim a third top-flight casualty.

London Irish do not own their own ground, with the Exiles now playing their home games at Brentford football club’s Community Stadium.

That makes it all the more difficult to generate revenue, with the Exiles’ long-term owner Mick Crossan saying in September he was ready to sell up.

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Coached by former Ireland boss Declan Kidney, London Irish narrowly missed out on the title-deciding play-offs, with the side featuring several rising stars.

But the likes of England wing Henry Arundell could now decide their future lies elsewhere even if a takeover is completed.

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