Richardson takes charge at London Wasps
April 10, 2013
Wasps' new principle shareholder Derek Richardson does not plan to have day-to-day involvement with the Premiership club © Richard Lane Photography
London Wasps have confirmed that Irish businessman Derek Richardson has become the Premiership club's new principle shareholder in a move that they hope will secure their long-term future.
Who is Derek Richardson?
Richardson, an entrepreneur who made his fortune in the insurance business in which he is still very much active, has been in negotiation with the club since last year and reportedly invested £1m back in January to help combat growing debt. More recently he made a move to takeover the club with reports suggesting that the recent payment of a £500,000 tax bill was the final hurdle in that process.
He will not have a day-to-day role at the club but he has identified a number of key priorities for the business. These include continuing to build the Wasps' supporter base, developing new training and administrative facilities, attracting significant sponsorship investment for the business, and, in the longer term, seeking to move to a new ground, which he believes will be vital in establishing the long-term financial sustainability of the club.
Richardson said: "I am excited to have become involved with London Wasps, a club I believe has a fantastic opportunity to move forward on and off the pitch. I see my involvement as a big responsibility and this is a long-term challenge which I want to meet head-on."
The club's future has been shrouded in uncertainty since former owner Steve Hayes decided to sell the club in 2011 after plans to build a new stadium at Wycombe Airfield were dashed following the refusal of planning permission. Liquidation loomed at the end of last season until a consortium led by former player Ken Moss stepped in but that was only ever considered a short-term option to keep the club afloat.
"The club has been through some tough times but I am confident that, with the right management and commercial focus, new investment can really reinvigorate everything about London Wasps," said Richardson. "Financial stability is our immediate focus and our aim is to become a self-sustainable business within a number of years. We are now looking at developing a longer term business strategy with the ultimate aim of ensuring we achieve that goal. On the pitch I am also very enthused about where we are headed. In Dai Young I believe we have a world-leading Director of Rugby and the progress being made by the squad is exciting for everyone involved."
Chief executive Nick Eastwood said: "It is fantastic news for everyone involved with London Wasps that today we can put a full stop to the uncertainty that has hung over the club in recent years. While we have managed to make some progress this season financially, Derek's involvement from here on in means that our business is now in very safe financial hands. He has an excellent track record in developing successful businesses and he sees a real opportunity to take this club forward through sound investment and a smart commercial strategy."
Wasps are committed to their current Adams Park home for the next two years but both Richardson and Eastwood are intent on taking the club back to its roots in west London. According to reports, Wasps could join forces with Brentford FC and invest in a new 20,000 seater stadium at Lionel Road in Kew for the start of the 2016-17 season. "A key piece of the jigsaw in ensuring that London Wasps becomes a sustainable business will of course be owning or co-owning our own stadium, although that is much further down the line," said Eastwood.
Richardson added: "We feel it is vital that we own or co-own our own ground. This is something we have already begun exploring but, as you can appreciate, it is a project that will take some time and it is something we will keep you informed of as and when we make progress. We are also very keen to invest in new training and administrative facilities for the club and this is another project that is already underway and should be something we can advance quickly over the next year or so.
"We are not interested in a ground-share, which is prohibitive in terms of helping us to become self-sustainable. We are currently looking at sites and co-ownership options. Ideally we believe that west London is a natural future home for London Wasps but we are exploring lots of options at a very initial stage at the moment."
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