Rugby

London Welsh announce US takeover

2016-09-05 20:10

London - London Welsh, one of English rugby union's great historic clubs, announced Monday they were set to be taken over by a "California-based investment group" after avoiding a winding-up order.

The Exiles, who play in the second-tier Championship, have had financial problems for several years and might have gone out of business completely had they failed to pay money owed to British tax authorities.

But judge Nicholas Briggs, sitting in the bankruptcy and companies division of the High Court in London, took just moments to dismiss the winding-up petition on Monday after hearing the debt London Welsh owed to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs had been paid.

The amount owed was not disclosed in court.

London Welsh won promotion to the top-flight English Premiership in 2012 and 2014 but were immediately relegated on both occasions, the second time without winning a match.

Following the announcement that they would not be going out of business, London Welsh announced the impending takeover of the club.

"London Welsh RFC is pleased to confirm reports that the petition presented to the High Court this morning to wind up the club and place it into liquidation was dismissed," said a statement.

"Coupled with this, the club is also delighted to announce the recent signing of a Sale and Purchase Agreement for the acquisition of the club by a major Californian-based investment group, which is only subject to formal approval by the RFU (Rugby Football Union, England's national governing body).

"The financial security which will be afforded the club as a result of this new investment will now enable it to plan for the future with confidence and renewed enthusiasm."

London Welsh chairman Bleddyn Phillips added: "We are thrilled and very excited to be able to announce the arrival of a new owner which will provide the club with the financial strength to sustain its ambition to be not only a competitive rugby team playing in the top tiers of the game in the United Kingdom but, equally importantly, to consolidate and enhance its social, community and amateur based activities at its spiritual home at Old Deer Park".

The Exiles moved to Oxford's Kassam Stadium for three years between 2012 and 2015 in the hope of bigger crowds that did not materialise before returning to their longstanding home at Old Deer Park in Richmond, southwest London.

London Welsh had a spell in administration in 2009.

They were purchased by Neil Hollinshead, subsequently jailed for seven years defrauding the club out of 350,000 ($466,380, 417,679 euros).

In April, there were fresh reports of cash trouble and head coach Rowland Phillips left in July.

One of London Welsh's greatest moments came when they provided seven members of the victorious 1971 British and Irish Lions tour squad in New Zealand.

John Dawes, who captained the Lions, was accompanied by London Welsh colleagues JPR Williams, Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, John Taylor, Mike Roberts and Geoff Evans as the combined side achieved what remains their lone Test series win over the All Blacks.

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