London Irish owner Mick Crossan has told The Rugby Paper that he’s looking for new backers to step forward after admitting he can no longer afford to sustain heavy losses as the club prepare for a new season in the Premiership.
Irish lost more than £2m in season 2015-16, their last in the Premiership, and with average crowds in the Championship falling to just 4,000, Crossan will stump up nearly double that amount this year after maintaining a Premiership-standard squad.
Irish’s turnover of just £8.7m was the second lowest in the Premiership in 2015-16, while only Sale and Newcastle had smaller wage bills. A £2m cash boost from top-flight central funding will help but Exiles require far more than that to prosper.
Crossan told TRP: “The challenge first and foremost is to stay in the Premiership and build on what we’ve created in the Championship. In that respect, taking a step back has not been the worst thing because we’ve rebuilt.
“But financially relegation has been tough and if we want to build London Irish back to the club it can be, we need to get more people to invest.
“I need people to help with the bills. My bank balance was a lot better before I took over London Irish three years ago and my wife will testify to that, but I took on a challenge and I’ve always done that. Sometimes your heart rules your head and London Irish is a passion I’ll never waver from, but we now need more help funding-wise.”
“It wasn’t long ago that we were in a Premiership final, made a Heineken Cup semi-final and were attracting crowds of 12,000-14,000 on a regular basis, but now we need new backers to step forward and help us achieve our dreams.”