Martin St Quinton assumes sole ownership of Gloucester Rugby
Martin St Quinton has assumed sole ownership of Gloucester Rugby after convincing Ryan Walkinshaw to part with his majority shareholding in a deal understood to be worth £12million.
St Quinton has turned his 40 per cent stake into full control at Gloucester, with the Walkinshaw family selling up and ending their 19-year association with the Aviva Premiership club.
Ryan Walkinshaw put Gloucester up for sale in April but despite interest from a consortium led by former Australia back-rower Rocky Elsom, he was unable to find a buyer.
St Quinton admitted he would have been forced to leave "with a heavy heart" had the Walkinshaw family received a bid to match their valuation for the entire club, understood to have been £25million.
"The club was put up for sale, and as the Walkinshaws owned 60 per cent of the club, they were in control," said St Quinton.
"They wanted to sell their stake, and the best way to sell their stake was for them to offer the entire club up for sale.
"And I had little option, the legal expression is 'drag along', I had little option but to go along with that, which I did.
"And if someone had come along who wanted to buy the entire club then I would have had to leave.
"I would have left with a heavy heart. I certainly didn't want to leave but if somebody had come along and come up with a price that the Walkinshaws would have accepted, then I would have had to go along with that. That's just how the world works.
"Fortunately that didn't happen so I was then in the position to make an offer for the Walkinshaws' 60 per cent which I duly did."
Tom Walkinshaw saved Gloucester from potential financial ruin in 1997, taking overall control and steering the club into rugby's professional era.
The former Arrows Formula One team owner helped set up the domestic league's governing body Premiership Rugby, and set Gloucester onto a sure footing.
When he died from cancer in 2010, his then 23-year-old son Ryan took control of Gloucester, guided by club administrators and mother Martine.
The Walkinshaws have since extended motor sport business interests in Australia, and will now focus their energies in that direction after selling Gloucester.
St Quinton has completed his takeover without any other financial support, which will leave Gloucester well-funded given his business success in the fields of office equipment and mobile equipment.
St Quinton also chaired a fundraising group to levy £50million for the recent major redevelopment of Cheltenham Racecourse.
New owner St Quinton insisted Gloucester can continue to invest funds to spend up to the Premiership salary cap, and pledged the club will remain at their long-term home, the Kingsholm Stadium.
"I could have been leaving the club and selling my stake, but luckily that didn't happen," said St Quinton.
"The Walkinshaws wanted to test the market to see if there was a buyer out there. If someone had come along and paid a premium price for the club that the Walkinshaws were mindful to accept then I would have had to go along with it.
"As the months went by and it became clear there was no one single buyer who wanted to take over the whole club, the pendulum swung.
"So that's why we're here today.
"The club are indebted to the Walkinshaw family for what they've done.
"If Tom hadn't stepped in when he did, we've all seen what's happened to some of the famous old rugby clubs who struggled to adapt to the professional era.
"Without Tom, Gloucester wouldn't be in the position it's in today."