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'A real mess': Worcester set to go into administration - report

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Gallagher Premiership strugglers Worcester are poised to go into administration as early as Monday amid reports that the tax bill owed to HMRC is as high as £6million. The Warriors admitted in midweek that they had been issued a winding-up petition and a club statement at the time sought to give assurance that the situation was being dealt with.

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“The club owners and board are fully committed to preserving top-flight professional rugby in Worcester and have been working on solutions to secure the financial future of Worcester Warriors and to pay the outstanding tax owed to HMRC,” read the statement on Wednesday with the countdown towards their opening Premiership game of the season – against London Irish on September 10.

“We appreciate that this is unsettling for the players, the employees, the fans, and the community in Worcester and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to establish the appropriate next steps.”

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Those next steps are predicted to be Worcester going into administration, according to Marcello Cossali-Francis, the sports editor of Worcester News. In a series of tweets on Saturday, he provided a worrying update on what has gone on in recent days at Sixways.

“Warriors update: so it sounds very much as if the club will go into administration, likely to be public knowledge on Monday morning,” he posted. “There remains concern about the fact Warriors the club and land are now separate businesses. Makes it tricky for a buyer if that’s the case.

“There are people within the club who no longer are on side with the owners and there is a big worry for staff over their jobs. Question mark over salaries for all at the club. They want a sale of all assets but that might not be what the owners want anymore. Tax bill is big.

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“I believe we have hit a point where there is serious unrest as the club and a real worry about the future of it. What needs to happen now is a full sale of all assets to ensure the club does not go bust, but what buyer would take the club and not the land? It’s a real mess, folks.

“I also understand there could also be some player movement through the club, regardless of the outcome of all this. Players need stability for their families and can’t be sat wondering where the next pay packet is coming from. Ahead of the new season… this is so damaging.

“Wonder what Cecil Duckworth would think of all this. Everything he did for this club to set it up for the best possible future. I just hope he is honoured with the right outcome here.”

Another rugby reporter, Jon Newcombe, put an exact figure on the tax bill owed by the Warriors. “Being told that Worcester owe HMRC £6m in unpaid tax and that new investors are being sought with current owners losing interest. As for Wasps, this month’s wages are safe but uncertain after that. Troubled times in the Prem.”

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The revelation that Worcester are in financial trouble came following months of speculation about the situation at Wasps where a £35m bond debt missed its repayment deadline. They too are also in talks with HMRC over unpaid tax.

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