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Worcester Warriors’ Premiership season in doubt after players and staff told they’re unlikely to be paid

The club has been issued with a winding-up petition by HMRC and the club’s finances have been frozen; Any players who have not been paid on Wednesday are able to serve notice that they are set to leave the club; Worcester’s Premiership campaign is scheduled to begin on September 10

Last Updated: 30/08/22 8:14pm


Worcester Warriors players can serve notice to leave the club if not paid on Wednesday

Worcester’s involvement in the looming Gallagher Premiership season remains in serious doubt after players and staff were told they are unlikely to be paid on Wednesday.

The club’s finances have been frozen by HM Revenue and Customs while they chase unpaid tax and the PA news agency understands that the prospect of the August payroll obligation being met is remote.

Any players who have not been paid on Wednesday are able to serve notice that they will leave Sixways on breach of contract and after a 14-day cooling-off period Worcester have a further 14 days to pay any outstanding wages. Once this has elapsed players can depart as free agents.

However, it is understood that the Rugby Players’ Association is looking at a possible loophole that would enable squad members to exit immediately rather than spend 28 days in limbo while the Premiership gets under way.

“The RPA has communicated with the players today and will continue to do everything in our power to support them,” a statement read.

“Things are moving very quickly and we are liaising with all stakeholders to keep across all the relevant information.

“We are ready to support players with enforcing their employment rights, and in all other areas, and especially in the event that they are not paid in line with their contracts.”

Worcester won the Premiership Rugby Cup in dramatic fashion last season

Worcester won the Premiership Rugby Cup in dramatic fashion last season

A winding-up petition has been issued by HMRC, with owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham looking to find new buyers while hoping to avoid administration.

Worcester’s opening match is against London Irish on September 10 and they face Glasgow in a pre-season friendly in Inverness on Friday. The Premiership launch takes place a day earlier.

Wasps reject merger but won’t disrespect Worcester

The suggestion of a merger with Wasps, who are also facing financial difficulties, was rejected at the Ricoh Arena, but their Premiership rivals have ruled out any attempt at taking advantage of Worcester’s plight.

Wasps have defaulted on repaying bond investors and are looking to refinance their debt but the immediate crisis has eased, resulting in their recruitment freeze being lifted.

Wasps' financial issues stem from the closure of the Ricoh Arena during the Covid-19 shutdown

Wasps’ financial issues stem from the closure of the Ricoh Arena during the Covid-19 shutdown

It means head coach Lee Blackett can target two new signings – “it will be people who will really make a difference to us” – but he will not be looking to lure players away before Worcester know their future.

“It’s not dog eat dog, there’s respect in the game. We would never do that,” Blackett said.

“If those guys don’t have a job and there is no club then it’s a different story, but we have too much respect for Worcester as a club to be doing that.”

Wasps’ problems stem from the closure of the Ricoh Arena sports complex during Covid, resulting in a dramatic drop in revenue.

“We’ve had communication from the board. Everyone has got a lot of trust in people here, that they’re going to do the right thing for the club,” Blackett said.

“The players have just got on with their jobs. I’ve not had anyone come to me for literally two weeks to ask any questions. Around two weeks ago a lot of people were starting to ask questions.

“If there’s any news the board will let us know. We carry on as normal. If you look at us we’re like most clubs but a fraction worse during Covid because of the stadium: the sport, leisure, hospitality.

“We relied massively on that and that’s where our revenue as a club comes from. Everyone has taken a pinch, but us a fraction more. The board are positive that the club will function and be competitive.



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