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Wasps to be rescued by club legends - reports

By Ian Cameron
Jack Willis and Gabriel Oghre of Wasps celebrate after Josh Bassett of Wasps scores his side's fourth try (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It is being reported that Wasps are to be taken over by members of the Wasps Legends group and former owners after administrators agreed to the sale of the financially troubled side.

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The Coventry-based club – who have won the Premiership four times and European Cup twice – went into administration on October 17 with the loss of 167 jobs.

According to The Sunday Times, a new offer has been tabled – which subject to contract – will see Wasps Holdings Limited taken over by a group of benevolent stakeholders of the famous side. The deal will see the club’s men’s rugby and the academy acquired.

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The group still need to meet the financial criteria associated with taking over a Gallagher Premiership club, criteria that have been the subject of much debate in recent weeks. The move will also need to be okayed by the RFU.

Coventry Live report that Lee Blackett will be installed as director of rugby at the re-ordered club.

The club’s relegation from the Gallagher Premiership has been confirmed by the Rugby Football Union on Friday but administrators FRP Advisory have described the deal as ‘a significant step forward’.

The RFU issued a statement on Friday saying Wasps had been suspended from the Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup for the rest of the 2022-23 season.

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The governing body said: “Following a meeting of the RFU’s Club Financial Viability Group today, the RFU can confirm the suspension of Wasps from Gallagher Premiership Rugby and Premiership Rugby Cup for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.

“The RFU’s Club Financial Viability Group is encouraged by the progress made by the administrators and it has taken the decision to suspend the team in order to support the prospect of securing a deal with the right investor and giving the club the best chance for a long term sustainable future.

“Any potential investors and management will require due diligence and approvals from the RFU and PRL. A condition of any potential deal will include a requirement for the payment of all rugby creditors.

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“The decision also gives certainty to PRL and Premiership rugby clubs to protect the integrity of Gallagher Premiership Rugby and allow clubs and their teams to plan for the rest of the season.

“Under RFU regulations, Wasps will be relegated from Gallagher Premiership Rugby, and therefore if investors can be secured, the club will restart in the Championship in season 2023-24.

“The club is able to appeal this decision if it can show there was no fault insolvency.”

Wasps have been ever-present in the Premiership since the competition began 25 years ago, winning it in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.

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But Wasps were hit by a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs for £2million in unpaid tax, and were also required to repay a £35m bond which had helped finance the club’s relocation to Coventry during 2014.

Wasps Holdings Limited, the holding company for Wasps men’s and women’s rugby teams, plus Wasps Netball, also went into administration and the company ceased trading with immediate effect.

The club’s playing squad included the likes of England internationals Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis, Dan Robson and Brad Shields.

Administrators FRP said that a small number of employees have been retained to support with the “orderly wind down of the company” and the operation of the CBS Arena, which is unaffected by administration and continues to trade as normal.

Wasps’ demise came less than three weeks after their fellow Premiership club Worcester went into administration.

The loss of the two Midlands sides leaves 11 teams in the Premiership and also serious questions for English rugby to answer over the future of the club game.

additional reporting PA

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