London Irish could be suspended from the Gallagher Premiership as speculation continues to rage about their future amid a possible takeover by an American consortium.
The Rugby Football Union says that, along with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association, it is “seeking to take action to obtain greater clarity on the future of London Irish”.
The RFU said: “The proposed takeover of London Irish by an American consortium has led to a significant amount of uncertainty and speculation about the future of the club, which is having an impact on players, staff and fans of the club.
A deadline of May 30 has now been set by the RFU in what is an increasingly grim saga, with Irish having reported debts of £30milliom.
By that time, a takeover of the club must have been completed and approved by the RFU, with the buyers undertaking to provide all required working capital to meet the club’s obligations for at least next season, or the club showing that it will continue to be funded to operate throughout next season.
The RFU added: “If the club fails to meet these conditions, it will be suspended from participating in the Premiership (and other competitions) in season 2023-24 to avoid a scenario where the club enters insolvency mid-season, with the corresponding and substantial impact that has on players, staff and fans, as well as on the remainder of the league.
“This deadline was set to give enough time for the buyers to provide the information needed and for the transaction to complete.”
Wasps and Worcester entered administration earlier this season, resulting in their expulsion from the Premiership.
It meant the Premiership dropping to 11 clubs, with the most fraught campaign in English domestic rugby history reaching its conclusion on May 27 when Saracens and Sale Sharks contest the final at Twickenham.
Irish, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on a place in the title play-offs, finishing fifth, three points behind Northampton.