European bosses to assess potential risks of pending Gloucester takeover

Published: Friday 16th December 2016 by The News Editor

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European bosses will block Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad’s move to buy Gloucester if they discover any “risks to the integrity” of the continent’s top club competitions.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has confirmed receipt of Gloucester’s application for consent for French billionaire Altrad to acquire a stake in the Aviva Premiership club.

English, French, European and global rugby authorities must sanction Montpellier owner Altrad’s potential takeover at Gloucester before the scaffolding magnate can progress his bid.

And European chiefs admit they are weighing very seriously the consequences of allowing the precedent of one man owning top clubs in both England and France – who can face off in either the Champions or Challenge Cups.

“EPCR is committed to completing all of its due diligence regarding this matter and to assessing any potential risks to the integrity and image of its tournaments in which both clubs participate, by avoiding any potential conflict of interest, or perception thereof,” read the European governing body’s statement.

“It is important to consider the views of all stakeholders as part of a fair, thorough and transparent decision-making process.”

Gloucester last week confirmed their talks with Altrad over potential investment.

Altrad will require clearance from the Rugby Football Union (RFU), French Rugby Federation (FFR), EPCR and World Rugby to complete a takeover at Gloucester while retaining control at Montpellier.

Gloucester owner Martin St Quinton only completed his full takeover of the Kingsholm club in February, having been a major shareholder since 2008.

St Quinton assumed sole control of Gloucester earlier this year by purchasing the other main shareholding from the Walkinshaw family. Former Arrows F1 team owner Tom Walkinshaw saved Gloucester from financial ruin in the early professional era, purchasing the club in 1997.

Walkinshaw died in 2010 after a battle with cancer, and his son Ryan took control of Gloucester.

“EPCR has received an application for consent for the acquisition of a majority stake in Gloucester Rugby by Altrad Participations – the owner of Montpellier Herault Rugby – and has discussed the matter at the most recent meeting of its executive committee,” the statement continued.

“To have a controlling influence on two clubs participating in European club competition would require consent from the unions concerned (in this case, the RFU and the FFR who are both shareholders and are represented on the EPCR Board) as well as from World Rugby and EPCR itself.

“EPCR has written to the three organisations in question, asking for their clarified positions on the matter.”

Published: Friday 16th December 2016 by The News Editor

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