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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

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What Wasps' players were told Wednesday about second court filing

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Wasps boss Lee Blackett has shed light on the latest goings-on at the financially troubled Gallagher Premiership club, revealing that players and staff were addressed at the training ground on Wednesday by chief executive Stephen Vaughan and chief operating officer Chris Holland.

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It was September 21 when the club originally filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, a gambit Wasps claimed was designed to buy them more time to solve their cash crisis. This was followed 13 days later by Tuesday’s decision to file a second notice of intention to appoint administrators.

A statement issued by Wasps Holdings Limited revealed that talks were at a relatively advanced stage with possible investors in the face of a winding up order from HM Revenue and Customs for £2million in unpaid tax. The English top-flight club is also struggling to repay the £35m bond that was raised to help finance their relocation from High Wycombe to Coventry in 2014 that was due in May 2022.

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This issue regarding the second filing was the hot discussion topic on Wednesday at the Wasps training ground and any anxieties caused by Tuesday’s latest announcement were addressed by Vaughan and Holland when they dropped by to talk to players and staff.

“We have had another update today,” revealed coach Blackett at his Wednesday afternoon media briefing ahead of Sunday’s home game versus Northampton at the CBS Arena. “I won’t say too much…

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“But we were updated today personally by Stephen Vaughan and Chris Holland who were both down and they both gave us where we were. They explained about filing that second notice of intention to appoint administrators. They talked about interested parties, they were very honest with the group. Positive at the same time as well as being honest.”

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Blackett expressed his satisfaction that Wasps were handling their financial situation in a far more transparent manner than what happened at the RFU-suspended Worcester, who currently can’t play this season and will be automatically relegated to the Championship next season. “Yeah, you’d like to think so. At the moment everything they have said to us has always been the 100 per cent truth.

“They have got the full backing of everyone here. They have given us nothing to say they are not being completely honest. We are completely behind them. There is a feeling here we are all in this together. It is not an us and them.”

The recent court filings mean that the recruitment freeze which affected Wasps for much of the off-season is back in place, but Blackett is confident it won’t last long. “Yeah, at the moment for the next couple of weeks, I don’t think anyone is in a position to be making that [contract decisions]. But you just see all the press releases, the club have said this isn’t months and months, decisions have to be made pretty soon.”

An emotional Wasps defeated Bath 39-31 two days after the revelation about the first court filing for an administrator became public knowledge. Blackett claimed that performance at The Rec was special and that his players have since continued to apply themselves professionally to their job despite the ongoing speculation regarding the club’s future.

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“I just go back to our last Premiership game at Bath and with everything that was going on with something that came out of the blue, the reaction of the players and all the staff was pretty special. It shows what a great group we have got. The performance they put in that day considering everything that happened the previous 48 hours just shows us exactly where we are and the people we have got involved in the set-up.

“The big thing is keeping that going as long as we can. For us, it is being positive. I have seen nothing but professionalism from the players, we are just getting on with our job and we will leave everything else to the people above.”

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