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Heartbroken Worcester lock responds to owners' bizarre statement

By PA
Worcester Warriors' Joe Batley during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Picture date: Saturday May 15, 2021. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Worcester’s Joe Batley has hit out the owners of the club after a statement released this evening looked to shift blame to players and supporters.

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Currently in administration, Worcester’s debts total more than £25million, including at least £6m in unpaid tax, with owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have been accused of asset-stripping the club.

The club failed to meet a RFU deadline earlier this week requesting proof of insurance cover and funding for the club’s monthly payroll, which resulted in the club being suspended from all competitions.

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Goldring and Whittingham issued a statement on Friday evening in which they stated: “We are thankful to those supporters who turned up week in, week out to support the club but sorry that there were not more, nor enough of you on a regular basis to help make the club financially viable despite the significant personal funds we put into the club,” the statement read.

“We are sorry that we did not have the foresight during the pandemic to cut back on the squad budget, but instead remained committed to giving the club the best chance of being competitive.

“We are thankful to all of the staff that supported the club through Covid in accepting a significant reduction in their salary, but sorry that the playing squad could not accept a similar level of reduction.

“And in some players’ instances would not accept any pay cut at all despite our openness at the financial impact this would have on the club.”

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Second row Batley described the statement as a ‘kick in the face’.

Batley Tweeted: “No words, after everything they have put us through. It’s not their fault it’s ours apparently. This is such a kick in the face. Every time I think we hit rock bottom we fall a little further.”

Batley already triumphed over adversity once in his life – and he remains committed to winning another major fight.

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Like his Warriors colleagues, he is anxiously awaiting developments after Worcester were suspended from all competitions and placed in administration.

The Worcester players do not know when, or if, they will be back in action as their place among English rugby’s Gallagher Premiership elite hangs by a thread.

Four years ago, at the age of 21, Batley was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

But he made a successful recovery and was able to continue with his ambitions of playing professional rugby, joining Worcester in 2020.

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“When I had cancer it was very much all about me, so I could kind of process that differently,” Batley told the PA news agency earlier this week.

“But now it is a lot different because it (Worcester’s situation) is affecting multiple people.

“There are highs and lows in anything you do in life. Rugby is all I have ever wanted to do.”

Players, coaches, staff and supporters, meanwhile, had little or no communication from the club owners, exacerbating an already tense situation.

“We have been so long in the dark and hearing about scary outcomes that we can’t wait to put an end to all this, one way or the other,” Batley added.

“The guys just want an answer either way. We have been in limbo.

“I have got a young family, so it is tough to think about what’s best for all of us when there are no real options there in terms of we don’t know what’s what.

“My partner doesn’t work at the moment. She stopped working when she had our one-year-old. It’s hard to know what to do next when you don’t know what the outcome is going to be.

“We are very settled here, we bought our first house and had our first child in Worcester. We see it as home. It would be a shame for it to end this way.

“It will be interesting when we go one month, two months without pay – we are not like footballers where we are rolling in cash. A lot of us are living month to month.

“The Premiership can’t wait for us to get our act together for too long, so we know there are time constraints.

“Some lads have taken the opportunity to go and see family and train back home, so I think at this moment whatever is going to keep you mentally fresh, the guys are taking advantage of.

“The uncertainty is what is killing us, but at the same time, everyone is sticking together.

“The fairytale would be amazing for us to stick together, but at the same time a lot of boys live month to month, and if income stops, then the pressure really comes on.

“All we want to do is be back on the pitch playing in front of the fans. It is out of our control, so the quicker everything gets sorted, the better.”

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