Pre­mier­ship rel­e­ga­tion cost Lon­don Ir­ish £3m

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - By NEALE HAR­VEY

THE cost of rel­e­ga­tion from the Pre­mier­ship is starkly il­lus­trated by Lon­don Ir­ish declar­ing losses of al­most £3m for sea­son 2016/17 – prompt­ing au­di­tors to warn of ‘ma­te­rial un­cer­tainty’ over the club’s abil­ity to sur­vive.

The Ex­iles’ reliance on bene­fac­tor-in-chief Mick Crossan, chair­man of con­trol­ling party Pow­er­day PLC, is made clear in the club’s lat­est ac­counts, which re­veal turnover plum­meted from £8.8m in 2015/16 to £6.8m dur­ing their year out­side the top-flight.

That £2m short­fall, along with a 38 per cent de­crease in com­mer­cial in­come (down to £1.7m from £2.7m), a 41 per cent drop in at­ten­dances to an av­er­age of just 4,705 in the Cham­pi­onship and a 54 per cent re­duc­tion in match­day tak­ings, led to over­all losses of £2.95m.

Al­though Ir­ish made sav­ings of £1.4m on their wage bill, which to­talled £6.2m, down from £7.6m dur­ing their 2015/16 rel­e­ga­tion cam­paign, a de­cline in sea­son ticket sales (down 29 per cent) and rugby in­come (down £700,000) con­trib­uted to the deficit.

With Ir­ish also car­ry­ing li­a­bil­i­ties of £17.8m, au­di­tors Breb­n­ers warned: “The Com­pany re­mains de­pen­dent on the con­tin­ued fi­nan­cial sup­port of Lon­don Ir­ish Con­sor­tium (2013) Lim­ited and its ulti-

mate con­trol­ling party Pow­er­day PLC. The fi­nan­cial state­ments do not in­clude the ad­just­ments that would re­sult if the Com­pany was un­able to con­tinue as a go­ing con­cern.

“These con­di­tions in­di­cate a ma­te­rial un­cer­tainty ex­ists that may cast doubt on the Com­pany’s abil­ity to con­tinue as a go­ing con­cern.”

It is un­der­stood Crossan is close to se­cur­ing fur­ther in­vest­ment that would se­cure Ir­ish’s im­me­di­ate fu­ture. How­ever, with an­other stint in tier two loom­ing, losses for the cur­rent cam­paign are likely to be equally high.

Within their ac­counts, Ir­ish stated: “Fore­casts show con­tin­ued losses for at least the next 12 months. In­evitably there is a de­gree of un­cer­tainty as to the ex­act level of such losses.”

While Ir­ish mull a move back to Lon­don, with ground-shar­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties at Brent­ford FC and Wim­ble­don FC be­ing men­tioned, their re­cent his­tory has been pock-marked with coach­ing changes that have cre­ated off-field in­sta­bil­ity.

Since Brian Smith took over from Toby Booth as di­rec­tor of rugby in 2012, Ir­ish have been through five head hon­chos with Glenn De­laney, Tom Coven­try, Nick Kennedy and, most re­cently, De­clan Kid­ney all tak­ing charge.

Ir­ish can still rely on cen­tral fund­ing next sea­son, hav­ing banked £4.4m dur­ing their cam­paign in tier two, but with Eal­ing in­vest­ing heav­ily for a ti­tle push, pro­mo­tion from the Cham­pi­onship would be far from guar­an­teed.

Lon­don Ir­ish de­clined to com­ment.

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