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The key questions surrounding Worcester's plight

By PA
Worcester Warriors verge of administration

Worcester are fighting for their future amid major financial uncertainty right across the Gallagher Premiership.

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Here, the PA news agency looks at the Warriors’ plight, which has worsened following a Rugby Football Union suspension announced on Monday.

Why are Worcester in trouble?
The Warriors are saddled with more than £25million of debt, with an HMRC winding-up order due in October. Players and staff at the Sixways club have not received their full wages, with the lack of funds leading to major operational shortcomings. Owners Jason Whittingham and Colin Goldring insisted that a deal was close to being completed with new buyers, but no evidence of that deal has yet been produced.

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What is the latest development?
Worcester have been suspended from all competitions with immediate effect after they failed to meet a Rugby Football Union deadline requesting proof of insurance cover and funding for the club’s monthly payroll. The RFU also wanted evidence of a “credible plan to take the club forward” by 5pm on Monday. But those requests were not met, with Worcester men’s and women’s teams now both suspended, while the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the club have been placed into administration.

What does that mean for the club?
Worcester’s Sixways Stadium is now locked – staff were given until Monday afternoon to collect their belongings – and the immediate future is bleak. Saturday’s Premiership game at Gloucester is off, and because there is no public liability insurance in place, Worcester’s players cannot train at the ground. The players will be given some time off by rugby director Steve Diamond at least for a week, while administration means a likelihood of automatic relegation.

What happens next?
The DCMS will now apply to the court to appoint administrators and begin work to explore all possible options to protect creditors and preserve rugby in Worcester. In the meantime, players, coaches, staff and supporters can only wait and hope.

Why are so many Premiership clubs struggling?
The pandemic’s impact cannot be ignored, but Worcester cannot hide behind Covid as a catch-all excuse. Rising wages for top players and coaches, despite salary-cap curbs, a constant contest to lure in punters and continued battles to boost match excitement are all major factors.

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So where does English club rugby go from here?
Sustainability will be a major watch-word for the coming weeks and months. The authorities will do everything to avoid Worcester going to the wall. But the wider argument over the Premiership’s best long-term plan will rage on.

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