Top-flight rugby club London Irish have been ordered to pay their players today or face expulsion from the Premiership.
The Exiles were granted a 24-hour extension to settle May salaries by the Rugby Football Union amid delays to a possible takeover.
The RFU is expected to announce this evening at around 7pm whether London Irish have satisfied their conditions for remaining in the Premiership – or are to be expelled, as Wasps and Worcester Warriors were earlier this season.
Even if the RFU are satisfied, it may only represent a stay of execution. London Irish would likely be given a further seven days to prove they have funds in place for next year, either through their current owners or the potential buyers.
English rugby’s governing body said on Wednesday: “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.
“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.”
An American consortium which includes sports agency Redstrike and former NFL and NBA athletes is in talks to buy the club from Mick Crossan, who owns Irish through his company Powerday.
The expulsion of London Irish would mean that almost a quarter of the 13 clubs that began the 2022-23 Premiership season had been kicked out.
The club – who share their ground with Premier League outfit Brentford – finished the Premiership season in fifth, one place off the play-offs.