Worcester Warriors suspended from all competitions
Worcester Warriors have been suspended from all competitions after failing to meet an RFU deadline to demonstrate there is a “credible plan to take the club forward”.
The men’s team are now unable to play in Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup fixtures while the women’s side cannot compete in the Allianz Premier 15s or Allianz Cup. It also affects their team in the U18s Academy Cup.
The RFU had asked Worcester to provide evidence that there was insurance cover in place and funds available to meet the monthly payroll by 5pm on Monday, but the club was unable to do so.
RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said: “We appreciate this is incredibly difficult news for fans, staff and players. We would like to thank the staff and players who have worked tirelessly over recent weeks to enable matches to continue.
“We met with players and staff last week to explain why this action would be necessary and regrettably without assurances in place we have had to take this action to protect everyone’s best interests.
“We hope a buyer can be secured to allow Worcester Warriors and The University of Worcester Warriors to return to professional league rugby.
“The RFU will continue to support community rugby in Worcester and is fully committed to ensuring local academy opportunities are provided for pathway players.”
Worcester were due to play Gloucester in the Premiership this weekend but that match will now not take place.
Premiership Rugby CEO Simon Massie-Taylor said: “Although the RFU decision to suspend Worcester Warriors from all competitions won’t be a surprise to many, I know this will continue to be a distressing time for the players, staff and supporters at the club and we will continue to support them where we can during this next phase.
“This decision affects other clubs in the league too and we are sorry for the disruption it has caused Gloucester Rugby and its supporters whose home fixture will no longer take place this weekend.
“We will be continuing to review the situation daily with the club and RFU.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) also agreed to requests to place WRFC Trading Limited, the company that owns the Premiership club, into administration.
It is hoped that this move may lead to investment that could help save the club, with former Worcester CEO Jim O’Toole heading a consortium hoping to buy the club.
Warriors owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham said: “We are grateful to DCMS and Sport England as the Covid19 loan Programme Manager for accepting our request to place the club into administration.
“Both the club and DCMS will continue to coordinate efforts to find a rescue for the club if there is any possibility of it being saved.
“The administrators will assess any rescue options for some or all of the business as and when offers are made, while ensuring public funds are protected.”
Going into administration means Worcester face a points deduction or relegation. If a buyer is found, the suspension could be lifted and they could play again this season but they may face automatic relegation to the RFU Championship next season.
The club’s financial problems have been public knowledge for weeks, with doubts over their ability to even start the Premiership season after delays paying players and staff in August, with some not receiving all – or even any – of their salaries.
The men’s team did play their first three league matches but players and coaches are now in limbo, and with facilities at Sixways closed they will now train on local pitches.
Wasps are also struggling financially and have announced their intention to appoint administrators to “protect the club’s interests”. It highlights the lack of sustainability in club rugby, particularly following the impact of Covid.
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