ARU kept in the dark over Rebels ownership
According to rugby.com.au, Kiwi-born multimillionaire Andrew Cox (Imperium Sports Management) transferred its shares for AUS$1 to the Victorian Rugby Union, effectively giving the Union a controlling stake in the franchise.
In a statement on Friday, the ARU said it was unaware of the process until they were notified by a third party.
"The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has tonight received confirmation from a third party that ownership of the Melbourne Rebels had transferred from Imperium Group to the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU)," the statement said
"The Melbourne Rebels have an obligation under their Participation Deed to inform ARU of any change of ownership. To date, ARU has received no such communication from the Melbourne Rebels despite recent attempts to confirm their position.
"ARU is urgently seeking to confirm the terms on which this transfer occurred."
Either the Melbourne Rebels or the Western Force will be cut from Super Rugby in favour of a new 15-team format next year.
However, this new development could throw a spanner in the works.
The change of hands means the VRU would need to agree to any sale of the licence to the ARU or the ARU will look into some kind of merger if they are on the wrong side of their arbitration with RugbyWA.
Additional source: rugby.com.au