Exiles staff received their salaries almost a week late

London Irish will take to the field against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday after staff salaries were belatedly paid just minutes before players planned to submit breach-of-contract notices which could have seen them leave the club within a fortnight.

The Exiles had been waiting on salaries since payday last Friday amid protracted takeover talks before chairman Mick Crossan stepped in before Thursday’s 5pm deadline, which had been set by the squad following talks with the Rugby Players Association.

The pay delay had caused widespread concern that Irish may follow Worcester and Wasps into administration after displaying similar red flags as to those cases but the Exiles’ director of rugby Declan Kidney insisted it was wrong to draw comparisons with other teams despite admitting there were “concerns”.

When speaking in a virtual press conference on Thursday morning, Kidney said: “I think you can draw too many comparisons between us and other teams, and I think it would be wrong to do that.

“It’s unfortunate but we trust the owners and prospective owners will come to a positive resolution for everybody involved here.”

Related: Worcester sold to Atlas Group but playing future remains unclear

The Irish boss said his players had been largely unaffected by the off-field talk and controversy and remained professional in their preparation for the final Premiership game of the season.

London Irish DoR on the week’s preparation

He added: “I can’t speak highly enough of the quality of players I work with just in terms of their application and their positiveness.

“I know we are a professional team, but these lads are way more than about money. They are working away all week and I haven’t actually had to pick them up. Not alone the players but also the coaching staff, the physios, the whole organisation of 130 people – how they have gone about their work, you wouldn’t actually notice any difference in the way people are approaching this match.

“We sit in a position [fifth in the Premiership] that we haven’t been in for over ten years and we are trying to finish as high up the table as we can. And so the improvements that these players have made to the team over the last couple of years, this isn’t one match to us.

“This is a really important match to us so as such I don’t have to pick them up, they are doing that just because of the quality of people they are.”

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