independent

Friday 18 April 2014

London Irish Takeover confirmed

London Irish and Stade Francais participate in a minutes applause for Nelson Mandela during the Amlin Challenge Cup match at the Madejski Stadium, Reading. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 8, 2013. See PA story RUGBYU London Irish. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire
London Irish and Stade Francais participate in a minutes applause for Nelson Mandela during the Amlin Challenge Cup match at the Madejski Stadium

London Irish have announced that a consortium of London-based Irish businessmen has completed a takeover of the club.

The group, which is led by president Mick Crossan and has former Exiles captain David Fitzgerald acting as interim executive chairman, has acquired a major shareholding in the company.

The owners have committed substantial new funds to invest in the new centre of excellence at Hazelwood and to strengthen the professional playing squad.

Director of rugby Brian Smith revealed the Exiles are determined to build on their Irish roots by signing more players from the Celtic nation.

"We have to be what we say we are on the tin and that means being representative of Ireland," Smith said.

Fitzgerald revealed there are no plans to move ground from Reading, where they are contracted to stay at the Madejski Stadium until 2025-26.

While stating Irish now have access to "substantial funds", he refused to embark on a spending spree to sign new players.

The club also confirmed the arrival of South Africa prop CJ van der Linde until the end of the season.

Van der Linde arrives as injury cover for Halani Aulika, who is out for the rest of the season.

"CJ is a world-class scrummager and will bring a lot of experience and composure to our pack," Smith said.

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