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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Worcester owners blame players and fans in statement branded 'shameless'

By Ian Cameron
Rory Sutherland /Getty

Worcester Warriors owners have apportioned blame on the playing squad and on their supporters in a statement branded ‘despicably shameless’ by one journalist.

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Warriors have been placed in administration with the club facing debts totalling more than £25million, including at least £6m in unpaid tax, and have been suspended from the sport by the Rugby Football Union.

Now owners Colin Goldring and Jason Whittingham have taken aim at the players and the supporters for the club’s failure in a remarkable missive.

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In a lengthy statement issued to ITV News, the pair hit out at players for not taking the same salary cuts as staff and bizarrely, blamed supporters for not turning up at Sixways in sufficient numbers.

“Dear Staff, Supporters and Community of Worcester Warriors, we are sorry to you all that the Club is in this current position and for the emotional distress this must have caused but we remain hopeful, through the process of Administration, that the Club can find a new Owner and emerge in a stronger position in order to preserve Rugby at Sixways.

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“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 Player’s 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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“We are thankful to all of the Supporters who continued to support the Club in any way they could, including many that donated their season ticket payment during the lockdown, and to the Government for the Furlough support that enabled us to keep every single staff member fully employed throughout the pandemic when many Club’s and Business’ were making redundancies. In doing so the Club took on enormous debt like so many others but we felt it was the right thing to do.

“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.

“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 for the highlights on many match days but sorry that we were not able to win more games for those Supporters that did turn up.

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“We are thankful to the DCMS for the Financial Support they gave to all Clubs during the Pandemic but sorry that the post-pandemic recovery did not happen overnight and that many Clubs, like Worcester, are struggling with the debts we incurred during Covid.

“Despite this we remain committed to working with the Administrator, and DCMS, to deliver the best possible outcome for this Club, Supporters and the Community of Worcester.”

Head of player affairs at the RPA, Christian Day slammed the statement, writing: “I’m not one to speak out of line, and I’m not even going to give airtime to that disgraceful statement from 2 ex-owners that should have been consigned to the bin. The Worcester players and staff have been a credit to that club, it’s supporters and city. Show some dignity.”

Rugby journalist and commentator Jamie Lyall described the statement as ‘beyond shameless’ and ‘cowardly’.

“Latest statement from the Worcester owners is beyond shameless. As though Donald Trump has taken up residence at Sixways. Blaming players, fans… anyone but themselves. A cowardly offering.”

Irish journalist Andy McGeady described the statement as ‘despicably shameless’. “The Worcester Warriors ownership. Shameless. Absolutely, despicably shameless. It’s really odd that they didn’t mention the car park.”

Telegraph writer Charlie Morgan branded it ‘utterly grim’.

Current Warriors back row Matt Kvesic poked fun at the statement, suggesting a Public Relations Officer was urgently needed at the club.

Two consortiums, one involving former Worcester chief executive Jim O’Toole, are understood to have expressed interest in buying the club out of administration, but it could take place after a player exodus.

Contracted personnel were due to be paid on Friday but the PA news agency reports this has not happened, meaning staff are entitled to move elsewhere after a statutory two-week notice period.

additional reporting PA

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