LONDON – Saracens, fresh from seeing their hopes of a third successive European title go up in smoke, suffered a second blow on Tuesday 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 (3.12m euros, $3.85m) last year and £3.27m the year before, and Johann Rupert told The Times newspaper it was time for him to sell up.
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.
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 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 Irish province Leinster on Sunday, is home to the likes of England fly-half Owen Farrell and star lock Maro Itoje, but Rupert's dream of it becoming a bedrock of the Springboks side never materialised.