Rugby stakeholders urged to back deal for Gloucester club in a bid to unlock more investment for the sport

Tracey Boles
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Rugby has a long history (Source: Getty)

PREMIERSHIP Rugby stakeholders are being urged to back a deal crucial for both Gloucester Rugby Club and investment in the wider game at a meeting later this month.

The deal centres around Syrian-born billionaire Mohed Altrad who had hoped to take a 54 per cent stake in the club. Altrad’s investment would pave the way for the development of Kingsholm stadium and the re-laying of its pitch, as well as significant improvement of the club’s Academy facilities at Hartpury College.

But he was asked to reduce the majority stake to a minority one after opposition from English club rugby representatives at a European Professional Rugby Club board meeting in Geneva last month.

Altrad, who also owns French Top 14 side Montpellier, now proposes buying a 45 per cent stake and honouring conditions which would prevent any conflict of interest caused by dual-ownership.

This has seemingly won approval from all the relevant governing bodies including the RFU, World Rugby, FFR, and EPCR, who believe the investment will benefit the game at large and encourage more overseas investment in to English rugby.

But fears are growing that conflicting interests among English clubs could see the plans kicked into touch at a meeting of Premiership Rugby stakeholders later this month.

Former England centre Simon Halliday, who is now chairman of European Professional Club Rugby, said: “It is important to point out that the type of investment we’re talking about is unprecedented in rugby and we all have to make sure that we safeguard the governance of the game.

“I’d like to think that the broader interest of rugby will be served and that we can find a way forward, that there is a relationship there between the clubs, and that everyone is doing it for the right reasons.

“The stronger your clubs, the better it is for the national game and I don’t want people being put off investing in rugby by administrators making bad decisions."

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