Irish businessmen complete takeover of London Irish

Basingstoke Gazette: Irish businessmen complete takeover of London Irish Irish businessmen complete takeover of London Irish

A CONSORTIUM of Irish businessmen have completed a takeover of London Irish RFC.

The group is led by Mick Crossan, executive chairman of Powerday, the club's primary sponsor, who becomes the new president.

Crossan said: "The members of the consortium are delighted to assume the responsibility for London Irish at the important time in the club's history.

"London Irish is unique in the world of rugby and we want it to be the best it can be. A few years ago we were challenging for the Heineken Cup but we've dropped off in recent years.

"We've seen enough and we want them to be one of the top clubs in England and the world. 

"We will sit down with (director of rugby) Brian Smith and see if we can bring better players to the club and grow the academy, which used to be second to none. A few years ago, 63 per cent of our first team came from the academy and for whatever reason, that has dropped off."

The change of ownership has been approved by the Rugby Football Union and the new investment has already enabled Smith to sign South African World Cup-winning prop CJ Van der Linde for the rest of the season.

Interim executive chairman David Fitzgerald, a former Exiles captain, said the club would continue to play at the Madejski Stadium for "the foreseeable future", though it is something that the consortium will review.

Existing chief executive officer Andy Martin has left the club by mutual consent.

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