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Another blow for Saracens as South African owners want out

Johann Rupert is selling his 50% stake to club chairman and co-owner Nigel Wray.

SARACENS, FRESH FROM seeing their hopes of a third successive Champions Cup title go up in smoke against Leinster, have suffered a second blow with news that the South Africans who own half the club want to sell.

Despite their European success in the past two seasons the club lost £2.74million (€3.12million) last year and £3.27m (€3.8million) the year before, and Johann Rupert told UK newspaper The Times it was time for him to sell up.

Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell dejected after the game Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell after Sunday's defeat to Leinster. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rupert, rated by Forbes business magazine as the third wealthiest man in Africa with a net worth of $6.9 billion, is selling largely because his 50% stake in Saracens is owned by a public company of which he is chairman and a shareholder.

“Remgro is a public company,” Rupert said.

“Is it therefore right to support a rugby club? One should not be using public shareholders’ money for your own loves.”

Rupert, whose investment 10 years ago ushered in a golden era for the club with three Premiership crowns to go with the two European triumphs, will leave having written off debts of £25million (€28.6m).

The South African said his stake would be bought up by club chairman and co-owner Nigel Wray.

Saracens are more the norm than the exception in making a financial loss in the Premiership, with last season’s champions Exeter Chiefs the only club to have turned a profit (£1.14million) last term.

Saracens, knocked out of the Champions Cup by Leinster in Sunday’s quarter-final in Dublin, have a squad including the likes of England out-half Owen Farrell and star lock Maro Itoje, but Rupert’s dream of the club becoming a bedrock of the Springboks side never materialised.

© AFP 2018

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