It’s been a long time in the offing, but the takeover at Saracens has now been completed. It was back in October when the announcement came that the now previous owner Nigel Wray was in the process of selling his controlling stake to a consortium that includes South Africa’s former World Cup-winning skipper, with the deal now over the line and official.
Saracens, who play at the top level of rugby union, have been around for one hundred and forty-six years. And the North London based club have, therefore, been the subject of takeover interest previously. Nigel Wray took control of Saracens as the majority shareholder in 2018 but has now sold his shares for a reported £32 million.
Wray’s spell as the majority shareholder has been awash with controversy due to multiple salary cap breaches that have seen millions of pounds worth of fines and points penalties come into play. Ultimately, this cost Saracens their status in the top flight, something which many hold Wray personally responsible for. However, the outgoing chief, who will retain a minority share, has subsequently apologised for his actions.
The future of Saracens is now in the hands of consortium Kimono House, a group of investors who have clubbed together to take control of one of rugby union’s powerhouses. Dominic Silvester, Francois Pienaar, Marco Masotti, Neil Golding, Nick Leslau and Paul O’Shea are all involved.
Saracens, who only returned to the Gallagher English Premiership this season, are currently in second place and eight points adrift of Leicester Tigers at the time of writing. So, the Kimono House consortium could well have made a smart purchase at the right time. Outgoing owner Wray suggested he was happy to sell to the group because they’re familiar with the club and its culture.
In an interesting move, Wray’s daughter, Lucy Wray, will be tasked with running Saracens in her role as chief executive officer. This is based on the respect she has within the sport across the board from her peers, with the new group of investors said to hold her in high regard too.
The official statement from Saracens read: “The Board of Saracens Group Holdings Limited is pleased to announce the completion of the previously announced transaction regarding the refinancing of the group and the acquisition of a controlling stake in the group by Kimono House Limited.
“This follows the receipt of the various approvals required – including from the RFU, PRL and the London Borough of Barnet.
“The group includes Saracens Rugby Club, Saracens Mavericks Limited and Saracens Copthall LLP.
“Kimono House is owned by a consortium of investors including Dominic Silvester, Neil Golding, Nick Leslau, Paul O’Shea, Francois Pienaar and Marco Masotti.”
With new money ready to be invested, and Lucy Wray running the show, the signs look good for Saracens. They have been crowned champions of the Premiership on five occasions, with their most recent success coming in 2019. So, the onus will be on those entering the building to finance a return to the winner's stage.