Premiership Rugby calls for clubs to open books with Worcester set for suspension

  • Chief executive of PRL: ‘We need better visibility of finances’
  • Simon Massie-Taylor wants ‘foundation’ for more investment

Premiership Rugby has called on clubs to open their books and give league officials greater scrutiny of their finances amid the desperate plights of Worcester and Wasps and fears that others may follow.

Worcester are resigned to being suspended from all competitions at 5pm on Monday when the Rugby Football Union’s deadline to meet a number of requirements, including an ability to make payroll and a “credible plan to take the club forward”, expires. Wasps, meanwhile, are more bullish that they can avoid administration but have a matter of weeks to find the £2m owed to HMRC to do so.

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Worcester braced for final battle after week that rocked English rugby union | Gerard Meagher

Warriors face Newcastle on Saturday before likely suspension and with Wasps in peril the club game is in a precarious position

After a desperate week for English rugby, with the net closing around both Worcester and Wasps, Steve Diamond could at least still see the funny side. “That’s the first time my name has been read out in parliament,” the Worcester director of rugby quipped, in reference to an MP’s impassioned plea for the government to enforce administration on Thursday night.

At the same time Diamond was realistic about the outlook for the beleaguered Warriors. There is widespread resignation they will not come close to meeting the requirements set out by the Rugby Football Union before Monday’s deadline at 5pm. Suspension will follow and though there is hope Robin Walker’s plea will not go unheard - on Friday the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) instructed legal advisors to scrutinise Worcester’s accounts - Diamond’s admission that his players go into Saturday’s fixture with the mindset that “it’s our last game at Sixways ever” was sobering.

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Lewis Ludlam: ‘The position a lot of clubs find themselves in is no joke’

Northampton’s captain says an urgent shake-up is needed if the Premiership is to avoid further financial problems

If only everything in English club rugby’s garden was as impressively flawless as the pitch at Franklin’s Gardens. There are less smooth billiard tables and the stage is perfectly set for a spectacular 250th east Midlands derby between Northampton and Leicester. “It’s the biggest game of the year,” murmurs Lewis Ludlam, the Saints captain, as his side prepare to go toe to toe with the defending Premiership champions.

Sadly, though, there can be no avoiding the financial undercurrents currently destabilising two of their neighbours. As the pips squeak louder at Worcester and Wasps, so the mood of the whole English game darkens. Any league is only as strong as its weakest link and, right now, the Premiership feels as vulnerable as at any stage since Richmond and London Scottish vanished off the professional radar in March 1999.

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Worcester get stay of execution as Newcastle match goes ahead

  • Debt-stricken club meet RFU’s conditions for fixture
  • Club still face suspension on Monday if crisis continues

Worcester’s match with Newcastle at Sixways on Saturday will take place after the club met all the conditions needed to stage the Premiership fixture.

The Rugby Football Union confirmed Worcester have met the Thursday 12pm deadline for proving they are able to host their second home match of the season in the face of debts exceeding £25m.

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Wasps face relegation as financial crisis in English club rugby union deepens

  • Coventry-based club join Worcester in turmoil
  • Wasps have filed notice to appoint an administrator

English club rugby has been plunged further into turmoil with Wasps facing the prospect of relegation after moving towards administration and Worcester Warriors told by the Rugby Football Union they will be suspended if they cannot produce a “credible plan to take the club forward” by next Monday.

On a desperate day for the domestic game, the financial hardship of Premiership clubs has been exposed with Wasps filing notice to appoint an administrator. The Coventry-based club failed to repay a debt of £35m that was due to bondholders in May, though the club recently stated that they were in “advanced discussions” to refinance the bond, which helped fund the move from London to the Midlands in 2014. The decision to file notice was ultimately taken with HM Revenue & Customs preparing a winding-up petition over unpaid tax.

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Worcester win 11th-hour reprieve for Sunday’s Premiership game with Exeter

  • Crisis club have met safety regulations deadline
  • RFU working with owners on takeover proposals

Worcester Warriors have been granted a stay of execution by the Rugby Football Union to host Sunday’s first home match of the season against Exeter but the club remains mired in financial crisis with staff lashing out at the owners over “broken promises”.

The RFU had set Worcester a deadline of midday on Friday to provide guarantees over safety and medical provisions or face suspension from the Premiership. The union confirmed that they have been provided and the match can go ahead, thanks to the efforts of the club’s staff who are still waiting on unpaid wages. Saturday’s match between Worcester’s women’s side and Harlequins has also been given the green light.

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Debt-laden Worcester told by RFU they face suspension over safety concerns

  • First home match of season scheduled for Sunday against Exeter
  • DCMS mistakenly sends out administration letter to fans

The Rugby Football Union has told Worcester Warriors they will be suspended from the Premiership if the financially stricken club cannot provide assurances by midday on Friday that they can safely stage matches at Sixways. It is also understood that suspension could lead to Worcester being permanently kicked out of the Premiership if assurances over the club’s finances are not provided.

The RFU has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of information coming from the current owners of the club over the details of the finances and potential sale of the club and have issued a strict deadline. In particular, the RFU is concerned that the local authority has not provided Worcester with a general safety certificate to stage matches at Sixways, but worries extend to medical provisions for players amid overdue payments for staff and bills for suppliers.

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Worcester owners close to agreeing sale to secure Premiership club’s future

  • Potential buyer would have to take on debts of around £25m
  • Optimism growing that home game on Sunday will go ahead

The Worcester Warriors owners are believed to be closing in on a deal to sell the club in a move that would preserve the club’s future if it goes through.

While the finer legal details were still to be worked through on Monday night and although the Rugby Football Union would still need to give its approval, it is understood staff have been told that a deal has been agreed in principle.

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Worcester players reject ‘victims’ tag as kick-off is clouded by uncertainty

Warriors captain Cameron Neild says the opening Premiership game against London Irish will be a welcome distraction

In times of crisis, gallows humour can provide some light relief and at Worcester Warriors of late there has been a sizeable dose of what is often prescribed as the best medicine. “If you don’t laugh, you will cry,” says back-rower Matt Kvesic, who admits players having to live on beans on toast is a running joke at the financially stricken club.

Steve Diamond, the club’s director of rugby, concedes there is an inevitable anxiety among the squad, who have been paid last month’s wages but, as they prepare for Saturday’s season-opening match at London Irish, have no idea if they will receive September’s pay packet.

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Premiership faces a watershed season when drifting is no longer enough | Robert Kitson

Financial woes and player welfare concerns abound but rugby union remains a compelling spectacle when everything clicks

Every now and again on social media a video clip will emerge of a lonely surfer trying to catch a skyscraper-high wave off the coast of Portugal. Time it right and the long ride down is truly epic. Get it slightly wrong and the consequences of that misjudgment do not bear thinking about.

In many ways the 2022-23 Premiership season feels broadly similar. Increasingly there are jagged financial rocks everywhere and the game’s physicality continues to make it unsuitable for the faint of heart.

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Premiership rugby 2022-23: complete club-by-club guide to the season

Exeter need a reboot while champions Leicester may just find it harder going against an intensely competitive Saracens

Bottom of the pile last season but with Johann van Graan’s arrival comes a degree of optimism that things will improve. At the very least supporters can expect more commitment than was shown in the humiliating defeat by Gloucester in April and, in Chris Cloete, Dave Attwood and Quinn Roux, the South African coach has added some heft to his forwards. Orlando Bailey caught the eye in glimpses at fly-half last term and a big season beckons without the helping hand of Danny Cipriani. Most important, though, will be how quickly Van Graan can foster a togetherness after Bath looked anything but for large spells last term.

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Ellis Genge given special permission to play for Bristol against Bath

  • England players meant to sit out first two rounds of new season
  • Genge ‘pumped and ready to go’ having rejoined home town club

Ellis Genge has been given special permission to make an early return to Premiership duty when Bristol host their local rivals Bath in Friday’s season-opening fixture. England players who went on the summer tour to Australia had been due to miss the first two rounds but Bristol have successfully sought an exemption in Genge’s case.

According to Pat Lam, Bristol’s director of rugby, Genge was desperate to feature at Ashton Gate and the Professional Game Board has duly cleared him to play on condition his game time is reduced before England’s autumn Tests and the Six Nations. It means the prop’s off-season will be less than eight weeks rather than the anticipated 10.

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Worcester owners hit back at local MPs amid threat of automatic relegation

  • RFU rules state administration would result in demotion
  • Owners claim three parties want to buy Premiership club

Worcester’s owners have hit back at calls from four MPs urging the government to put the club into administration – a move that would condemn the Warriors to automatic relegation from the Premiership, the Guardian understands.

Co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham claimed a deal with one set of buyers is “moving at an especially rapid pace” after the MPs called for administration as soon as possible. That would likely result in relegation because according to the Rugby Football Union’s regulations, the new season started last Saturday even though the Premiership does not kick off until Friday.

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