London Irish must pay all staff for May in full today or be withdrawn from the Gallagher Premiership.
The Rugby Football Union said it is giving owner Mick Crossan the chance to meet payroll as scheduled today or the offer of a deadline extension to complete a takeover will be withdrawn.
An American consortium is in discussions to take control of the club but has yet provide proof of funds to the RFU, as well as other documentation needed for the purchase to be approved.
“The RFU club financial viability group met yesterday evening. It noted the conditions set by the RFU had not been met and considered the application for an extension to the deadline,” an RFU statement on Wednesday morning read.
“It was agreed to defer the decision for 24 hours to establish if the club is able to honour the commitment it has made to staff that they will be paid for the month of May. The group will meet again this evening.”
If all staff, including star players such as Henry Arundell and Tom Pearson, are paid today, an extension of around a week is likely to be granted for the US buyers to finalise the takeover.
Irish are in grave danger of becoming the third Premiership club to fold, following Wasps and Worcester, at the end of the grimmest season in the history of the league.
It comes despite the Exiles finishing fifth in the table, just three points adrift of the play-offs, while playing some of the competition’s most entertaining rugby under the guidance of former Ireland head coach Declan Kidney.
Since 2020 they have played at Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium and, on top of lacking their own ground to generate revenue, they are saddled with debt in the region of £30million.
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The fate of Wasps and Worcester are bleak examples of the dangers of the financial crisis that has unfolded in the Premiership.
Wasps have been demoted to the bottom of the league pyramid after the RFU revoked their licence to play in next season’s Championship, placing a question mark over their existence.
And ambitions that Worcester could be relaunched in the Championship ended because of a dispute over terms between their new owners Atlas and the RFU.