(Reuters) – English Premiership side Worcester Warriors have been suspended from all competitions after failing to meet a deadline to provide proof the club can operate amid its financial difficulties, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Monday. Worcester are looking for new owners after they were served in August with a winding-up order over […]
Rugby-RFU suspends Worcester from all competitions amid financial issues
(Reuters) – English Premiership side Worcester Warriors have been suspended from all competitions after failing to meet a deadline to provide proof the club can operate amid its financial difficulties, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Monday.
Worcester are looking for new owners after they were served in August with a winding-up order over unpaid tax, reportedly worth more than six million pounds ($6.41 million).
They also owe the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) 14 million pounds after taking out a long-term loan during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The owners of Worcester Warriors have not met the RFU’s 5pm deadline to evidence insurance cover, availability of funds to meet the monthly payroll, and a credible plan to take the club forward,” it said in a statement.
“The RFU has therefore suspended Worcester Warriors from all competitions, including the Gallagher Premiership, Allianz Premier 15s, U18s Academy Cup and Allianz Cup with immediate effect.”
Earlier this month, Worcester met a deadline to provide assurances they could safely host games amid the financial turmoil before the RFU asked the club to come up with a credible plan to avoid suspension.
“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,” RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said.
“We hope a buyer can be secured to allow Worcester Warriors and The University of Worcester Warriors (who compete in Premier 15s) to return to professional league rugby.
“While it is the responsibility of each business owner to manage their individual finances, we will look at learnings from this situation to see what regulation can be put in place to provide all parties with more financial transparency.”
The RFU said it would work with Premiership Rugby and the DCMS to “establish next steps for the club” and what it means for the Premiership, men’s academy and Premier 15s competitions.
Worcester could return later this season when an administrator is appointed and if the sale of the club is achievable within the RFU’s timeframes.
RFU regulations state that a club placed in administration once the season has begun will be relegated for the following campaign.
Worcester have played three Premiership games this season, winning one, to sit 11th in the 13-team standings. The Premiership is yet to announce how they will deal with the unfulfilled fixtures.
($1 = 0.9362 pounds)
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)