Worcester Warriors co-owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham hit back at local MPs for calling for the club to be put under administrationclaiming that a potential buyer “moves at a particularly rapid pace”.
It comes after another dramatic day in which it emerged Worcester risked relegation if they went the administrative route, as the Rugby Football Union deadline for the new season has now passed.
The MPs who spoke were Robin Walker, Harriett Baldwin, Rachel Maclean and Mark Garnier, whose constituencies are around Sixways, and they had implored the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport ( DCMS) to intervene.
Their belief is that immediate administration would be the best course of action to keep Worcester in the top flight. But what clouded the issue was that the RFU’s cutoff for the start of the current season would have been last Saturday September 3 – even if the Premiership does not start until next weekend.
According to the regulations, a club can lose 35 points if it goes into administration between seasons. If they enter administration during a season, however, automatic relegation is on the cards.
Worcester may be able to request that their fate be considered a ‘no-fault insolvency event’. In this case, the RFU would be free to waive any sanction. If Goldring and Whittingham find a buyer and complete a sale without the club going into liquidation or administration, the Warriors would not be relegated.
The four MPs, in a joint statement, said “enough is enough” and that “swift action” was essential to secure top-flight rugby union at their local Premiership club. amid ‘appalling mismanagement’.
The Worcester co-owners responded hours later saying they were “disappointed” by the politicians’ arguments.
“Three groups of buyers are in discussion”
“We would like to make it clear that we have kept DCMS fully informed of the financial situation of Worcester Warriors,” the owners wrote.
“They are aware of the options that are on the table to save the club as well as the dire implications posed to the club by any administration, in particular the risk of losing the club’s P share. [A P-share entitles club owners to a greater cut of revenue from broadcasting and other central streams generated by the Premiership].
“DCMS has been very supportive every step of the way and we thank them for their continued support and cooperation. DCMS is aware that three groups of buyers are in discussion with us. All three buyers are serious proposals and any deals being considered would save the club from going into administration.One of the buyers is advancing at a particularly fast pace.
Goldring and Whittingham also claimed there had been “no attempt to engage” from local MPs and reiterated their stance on the administration’s perspective.
“Avoiding administration is in the interest of the club’s creditors, not to mention its players and staff,” they said. “Pursuing an agreement that includes payment to all creditors as well as working capital best serves the club and the local community. Therefore, DCMS has given us time to research viable options.
“On the other hand, forcing Worcester Warriors into administration as these MPs have demanded risks the club losing its players and staff, losing its P share, writing off debt owed to local businesses and HMRC , and incur severe RFU penalties.”
“We continue to work tirelessly on a solution to keep all aspects of Worcester Warriors running, able to pay its debts and able to carve out a future that promises success on and off the pitch.
“We understand that we are under surveillance and that our actions are questioned. Our best response to that is to stay focused and devote all of our time and energy to getting the best deal for the club, its players, its staff, its partners, its sponsors and its creditors down the line – and that’s is what we continue to do.
Meanwhile London Irish chief executive Mark Bensted has called on the wider rugby community to attend Saturday’s game between his club and Worcester to show their support for Warriors players and staff after a turbulent few weeks .
“In difficult times like these, it’s crucial that everyone involved in the sport comes together to support their clubs and show solidarity wherever possible,” Bensted said.
“I would really like to encourage all of you – supporters of both clubs and the big rugby family, including Harlequins, Saracens and Richmond supporters who don’t have a home game this weekend – to attend the game. Saturday in what promises to be a special occasion.
“All Worcester Warriors staff, players and supporters will feel a very warm welcome from the Irish in London this Saturday, and I encourage the wider rugby community to come out and show their respect and appreciation for them all. “
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