Richmond faces rugby showdown

Richmond faces rugby showdown While rugby’s Barbarians beat Allied Dunbar Premiership champions Leicester at Twickenham on Saturday, Richmond was fighting for survival.

Insolvency specialist Buchler Phillips has been attempting to put together a voluntary agreement to rescue Richmond, but the English First Division Rugby board appeared determined to exercise its right to buy the club for £1 on Tuesday, and then close it.

Buchler Phillips partner Lee Manning was not optimistic and said the EFDR was on a mission to shrink the league. ‘They’re exploiting a technicality at Richmond’s expense,’ he added, explaining that potential investors were scared off by the threat to take over and close the club if it went into administration.

If EFDR closes Richmond, Buchler Phillips will then have to find buyers for the club’s assets, including a 49% share in its ground and debentures it holds in rugby’s national stadium at Twickenham.

Manning warned other club chairmen that closing Richmond would ‘set a very dangerous precedent’ by undermining the ability of cash-starved clubs to use administration as a way of reconstructing themselves in the future.

‘It will devalue club brands,’ he said. ‘Who will want to put money in? If there are no exit routes, directors will have to struggle on, with personal liabilities, or fold. Cutting one team out of the league will not result in a sea change in their finances.’

EFDR chief executive Howard Thomas said the situation had been made very clear to Richmond during its ten weeks in administration. ‘We would support a merger, but not administration to hide from creditors,’ he said. ‘We need to protect the integrity of the league and the interests of our sponsors.’

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