Worcester owners 'accept club's terms of sale'

Worcester owners ‘accept club’s terms of sale’

Worcester Warriors are due to stage their first home game of the season against two-time 2020 winners Exeter this Sunday

Worcester Warriors owners have said they have agreed to the terms of the sale of the struggling Premiership club.

Players, staff and fans have endured a month of worrying that the Warriors could fold after a HMRC liquidation petition over an unpaid £6million tax bill.

But co-owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring now say they’re happy the sale can go through.

They also work with the potential buyer on the “immediate deposit of large funds”.

The cash injection would mean their first home game of the season against Exeter Chiefs could take place on Sunday.

“The heads of mandate are now with the legal representatives of the respective parties who are reviewing the details of the agreement,” a club statement said.

“As of 5:00 p.m. BST on Tuesday 13 September, the heads of warrant have yet to be signed.

“We will provide a further update on both the sale of the club and this weekend’s fixtures on Wednesday.”

After fears they wouldn’t even start the season, the Warriors started the new campaign with a 45-14 loss to the London Irish Saturday.

They wore last season’s tape, because although this season’s tape has been ordered and is ready, it has not yet been paid for.

They used a coach to get to the game, whose bill was paid by one of the club’s main sponsors, Adam Hewitt.

The Warriors, whose final court appearance to take on HMRC is believed to have been set for October 6, are also to repay £14million of Sports Survival Package money, as sanctioned by the Department of Digital, Culture, media and sports during the Covid pandemic.

Part-owner Jason Whittingham (right) celebrated his Premiership Cup win in May with former Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons
Warriors co-owner Jason Whittingham (right) took over management of the Worcester Warriors in December 2018

In total, their debts are said to be £25m. But the as-yet-unknown ‘interested party’ deal would, subject to Rugby Football Union approval, secure their short-term status – allowing debts to catering staff, stewards and suppliers to be paid – and in the long term.

Part-owners Whittingham and Goldring have come under pressure to put the club into administration – both from a group of local deputies and a consortium led by former Warriors general manager Jim O’Toolewhich made it a key stipulation of any sale.

But, in an exclusive interview with BBC Hereford & Worcester last week, Whittingham spoke of people “jumping up and down making a lot of noise”, while stressing that, if the club goes into administration, creditors – including many locals – would end up not getting paid.

Whittingham also said that one of the reasons the transfer of money to staff for their August the payment of wages had taken so long were the automated bank security procedures that have become commonplace for private and business account holders in recent years.

How the Warriors Changed Hands

Worcester began their journey of trying to become a force in English club rugby when local millionaire boilermaker Cecil Duckworth got involved in 1997.

He injected the funds which led to a first promotion to the Premiership under manager John Brain in 2004.

But the Warriors never really started from there, were relegated twice and never finished higher than eighth in their 16 years in the top flight.

Around this time, Exeter, a club of similar stature, won the Premiership twice and conquered Europe.

Longtime benefactor Duckworth scaled back its involvement in 2013 when Sixways Holdings Limited took over, under the leadership of Greg Allen.

Duckworth remained on the new board as club chairman, until his death in 2020.

At that time the club was sold, to a consortium of four men directed by Jed McCrory in October 2018, but he left in June 2019, leaving Whittingham and Goldring at the helm.

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