London Welsh Financer Walks Out of Relegated Club

April 15, 2013

London Welsh majority shareholder Kelvin Byron has walked out of the club and is withdrawing his financial support.

The news comes after the club was relegated from the Aviva Premiership, which was helped by a five point deduction for fielding an illegible player, a punishment that CEO Tony Copsey told iSportconnect was ‘incredibly harsh.’

Now Byron has confirmed he will pull out from the club he saved from liquidation in 2009 and has hit out at the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Premier Rugby League (PRL).

“I’m pulling out, that’s absolutely definite, and I’ve had enough of the RFU and PRL,” he told the Rugby Paper. “I’ve had 20 years with London Welsh, one of the great rugby brands, but everything’s been done to get us back out of the division.

“I’ve done a hell of a lot for of rugby but there’s hardly a Welshman in the side, so what’s the point? I think the EQP system is a restraint of trade but the RFU don’t seem to worry that clubs like Saracens are South African owned.

“How could we have prospered when our funding is totally inadequate? If we’d had the £3.5m like everyone else we’d be flying, but we had to pick up players no one else wanted. I think they’re breaking competition law in the way clubs are funded.

“Then we get fined £15,000. It wasn’t bad administration, Mike Scott committed a criminal act, but we’ve had little support and to have (PRL chief executive) Mark McCafferty on that tribunal after PRL did everything to stop us going up beggared belief.

“The bottom line is the RFU and PRL don’t want us there and if that’s the situation, London Welsh will have to find a level they can play at. I won’t be involved in rugby after the end of this season anywhere in the UK.”

Investment after relegation

Fears have been expressed about the impact relegation could have on the club, with doubts over fresh investment and the status of their tenancy at Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium.

Bryon added: “It’s happened before and could happen again, but hopefully we’ll stay at the Kassam and try to move forward.

“If they get new investors on the board, maybe they can take it back to the Premiership. But what is the point when the funding is so inadequate?”

Copsey previously told iSportconnect that investment would be key, especially if the club was relegated: “Without premiership status, that leaves a much bigger uphill struggle to gain that investment.

“Short term, it is about the desire of the current board of investors to supply more money, or to attract new investment.

“I would have thought, really for the club, it is about attracting new investment, but as I said that will be harder if we are not in the Premiership.”