A proposed takeover of second-tier club Beziers by an unknown UAE-based investor has failed after French rugby's financial watchdog (DNACG) refused to validate the deal on Monday.
The Emirati was supported by former France winger Christophe Dominici. There had been talk of signing ex-New Zealand centre Ma'a Nonu, as well as England internationals Manu Tuilagi and Semesa Rokoduguni after a reported multi-million euro purchase was completed.
Beziers are the 11-time French champions and dominated French rugby in the 1970s and early 1980s but were relegated in 2005 and are currently in the second division.
The DNACG had asked the potential new owner to supply documents and proof of wealth.
Sotaco, the investment group representing the prospective owner, issued a press release saying they had tried to comply.
"We brought the required elements in a tight and pressured timeframe, and we legitimately thought that all the signals were green, but we suffered a mortal blow when the DNACG was not prepared to give their immediate agreement and as a first consequence we would not have been able to make the necessary player signings to take Beziers back to their rightful place in French rugby," Sotaco said.
"We leave sadly and we know Beziers' heart bleeds and cries. Ours does too because the magic of the project has been extinguished today," it added.
The club itself will now go before the DNACG on Thursday and sources have told AFP the Mediterranean outfit risk relegation from ProD2 for financial irregularities, with alleged debts of around €5 ($5.65 million).