WANTED: by the NTI newsroom. Puns and plays on words for rugby clubs about to go belly up. We are working on the 'shape of the balls' and 'tries but fails' angles, but anything else would be good. Apply within.
Does two clubs flirting with Administration amount to a crisis within English rugby? Yesterday (Wednesday 12 October) Wasps confirmed they plan to enter an insolvency process, following Worcester in being suspended from the Gallagher Premiership. Wasps debts amount to almost £100 million, and players and staff at the Coventry-based side were told of the club's perilous financial position at a crunch meeting yesterday. All hopes point south, as it appears there is a very big chance of one of the most famous names in English sport going out of existence.
Wasps, like Worcester, will likely be relegated from the Premiership once their Administration status becomes official. In mid-September Worcester Warriors co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham apparently agreed terms with an undisclosed buyer for their own financially-stricken club, but when we went to press the deal had not been signed. Worcester have debts of more than £25 million, including £6 million in unpaid tax, and HMRC have issued a winding-up petition which rather focused the attention of the owners. On 27 September th Worcester club entered into Administration, with Julie Palmer, Julian Pitts and Andrew Hook of Begbies Traynor appointed as Joint Administrators.
Meanwhile, Wasps’ match against Exeter on Saturday has been cancelled, in effect because they had run out of money to operate, and, as was the case with Worcester, they have been suspended from the Premiership. As per Rugby Football Union, relegation is expected to be confirmed when Administration materialises “in the coming days”. There are real doubts as to whether players and staff will be paid October’s wages. If the company that holds their contracts enters Administration, of course, it is expected that players could terminate their contracts immediately.
Meanwhile Premiership Rugby is left with just 11 teams with which to complete this season's league, whilst a statement from Wasps Holdings Limited read: “It has become clear that there is likely to be insufficient time to find a solvent solution … and it is therefore likely that they will enter into Administration in the coming days with a view to concluding deals shortly thereafter … We have been asking potential funders and investors to provide bridging finance to provide enough time for a solvent solution to be found. Regrettably, this has not been possible to date, although we will continue to pursue this until the very last opportunity.”