Nigel Wray today insisted Saracens are not for sale, but confirmed he is looking to attract new investors willing to pump £30m into the Premiership club following Johan Rupert’s decision to quit English rugby.
Rupert jointly owned Sarries through his South African based Remgro company and paid £10m to help Wray fund the £20m East Stand at Allianz Park, however, he has now opted out of the club which is facing a £22m bill for a new West Stand.
Wray, who has spent more than £40m of his own fortune in creating a major European rugby club, today told Standard Sport that funding for the East Stand is in place and the future and financial stability of the double European Champions Cup is assured. He will resume total control of Sarries until new investment is found to take the club to the next level, but is not going to make public how much he will give Rupert’s company.
Wray revealed that he has already received expressions of interest from potential new investors and he has assured Mark McCall, the director of rugby, that Rupert’s decision will have no impact on the running of the club which is targeting another Premiership title following their Champions Cup quarter-final exit to Leinster in Dublin.
The new West Stand would be similar in size to the East Stand and would raise the regular capacity of the ground by 500 to 10,500 and is seen as vital in turning Allianz Park into a money generator for a club that has seen its annual losses cut from £5m a season to around £2.2m. In the next financial year, Wray expects that figure to be cut in half and predicts an operating profit in the next two years.
Wray said: “Saracens are not for sale – that’s rubbish. Remgro are a billion pound company and the investment in the club is relatively tiny and they want to reduce that and I am going to buy their share. They have been fantastic partners and we will keep a relationship going because we want more South African players(they have an interest in the Stormers Super rugby side). Saracens will survive for a hundred years but I am not and so you have to create sustainability. We have major ambitions for one of the best club brands in the World.
“I am now the 100 per cent owner and I have already got people expressing an interest and we will see how it evolves because there is no rush. Remgro put money into the club and that will be the case again because I haven’t sold any shares. Any money goes to the club to make it better not me better and yes, this is a love affair but it’s not a blind love affair. I believe in what we are doing at the club and the family we have created and I have never added up what I have spent. Our losses are coming down every year
“The West Stand is going to cost £22m which is a shedload of money but we have had offers of finance to fund it and it would be a normal banking arrangement. Hopefully, building could start before next season. We are creating something meaningful in the community and the school we have funded is opening in September and we are more than just a rugby club. “
The proposed new Stand would include; Improved training and competition facilities for all sports users including athletics, rugby and community sport, space for Middlesex University’s Sport and Exercise Science Department, along with new health and wellbeing unit and enhanced facilities to support Saracens charitable arm, the Saracens Sports Foundation, to further develop its award winning community programme. There will also be improved disabled access and facilities.