London Wasps Looking for New Owners
October 5, 2011
English Rugby Union club London Wasps owner Steve Hayes is to begin a search for a new owner for one of Europe’s most recognisable and attractive rugby club brands.
Hayes, sole owner of the two-time European Cup Champions, is looking to release his investment and seek new owners to take the club forward, recognising that new drive from a new owner may be the best way to build on the groundwork and opportunities he has laid down for Wasps for an exciting and wider future.
Hayes took full ownership of the club in 2008 and in the past three seasons has piloted a number of innovative ideas in the sport introducing an annual St George’s Day Game at Twickenham which has attracted over 100,000 supporters over two seasons, and taking the first ever competitive domestic fixture overseas, showcasing the game to a global audience in Abu Dhabi.
Plans for a new Sporting Village in High Wycombe for both London Wasps and Wycombe Wanderers were also far advanced however Wycombe District Council subsequently withdrew its initial support this summer. This project had included a new 17,500 capacity stadium with community leisure facilities, retail space and a hotel and conference facilities.
Hayes believes that the Sporting Village plans, as they were developed, remain a sustainable option for London Wasps as a standalone club and any new owners will be encouraged to take these plans forward.
Hayes said: “I remain disappointed that Wycombe District Council withdrew its support for the Sporting Village project earlier this year and since that time I have been working with the London Wasps board to evaluate the best steps forward for the club. I fully believe that a new stadium for Wasps is essential in the coming years as we have always said that Adams Park was unsustainable as a long term option. I will work with any potential owners to develop the Sporting Village model we had already come up with at an alternative location.”
Hayes has appointed Baker Tilly to take the investment process forward.
World Cup winner and former Wasps captain, Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, who remains on the club’s board added: “Steve’s passion and vision over the past number of years has helped bring the club to new audiences around the world and any new owners will take on a club in a healthy position in terms of the direction it is heading on and off the pitch.”
Jim Clifford, Corporate Finance partner at Baker Tilly commented: “London Wasps is a club which needs the highest quality facilities to ensure sustained success and a commercially viable business and there are plans here for a world-class stadium which remains completely viable for this club under new ownership. Many great brands with great potential for relevance to a wider community remain underexploited. Wasps needs not be one of them.”
The next step of the process will see club owner Hayes and Baker Tilly begin a worldwide search for new owners for the club.